It may be wise to see the Original Post before you continue to reading this blog, as I will be making references to items in the original post.
Now for the bad news. Uncle Earls is no more! It closed down many years ago. Where there is bad news sometimes there is good news as well. I have found a new place recently and it has some very tasty meats! I will go into more detail later in this blog post.
This chart may help you as you shop for meat in Costa Rica. You still have to keep in mind that they still only raise Brahma cows here for the most part. Brahma cows are used here because of their ability to adapt to the warmer and more humid climates.
In the United States they are mainly used for breading and not eating. They are very lean animals and have very little fat in comparison to other cows. It has been used to develop numerous other U.S. beef breeds including Brangus, Beefmaster, Simbrah and Santa Gertrudis.
While it isn’t the best beef for eating, you can with proper prep make it a fairly good choice. The best cut of course is the lomito. You will need to ask the butcher to cut the piece for you. The lomito is usually a very thin and long piece of meat, as seen in the image above. They still do not butcher like they do in other countries like the U.S. Make friends with your local butcher and ask him to cut your lomito 2 fingers thick and you will have a steak you can cook medium rare to rare with no problem. You can get a piece that looks like this.
Again with all this said as you can see the lomito from a Brahma cow is not as nice as one from an Angus cow, but it can be a very good piece.
So the big question is where can you get good beef?????? That answer is simple and complex at the same time. Like many things in Costa Rica there is no one good answer to this question. This week you could find it in your local grocery, next week you may not. You may have to drive an hour or two to get good beef. You could have a special restaurant who is willing to sell you the good beef they sell if you want some at home as well. I have done this. I had a party once and asked our local restaurant if they could get me their steaks for a party. They did. Sure I paid more for them, but they were tender, they were juicy and I cooked them the way I wanted them. Well worth it. Here is the one and only way you can keep getting good meet. When you find a place to get it tell your friends and family. Spread the word like wild fire. Keep that place in business! It can disappear as quickly as you found it!
Here are my top 3 groceries where you can find good meat.
Walmart (Yes I said walmart) no I will not get into a debate over whatever issues you have with the company. Walmart Costa Rica is not Walmart U.S.A. get over it. They have good products for a good price. You can even find USDA steaks and other products if that is what you are looking for.
Auto mercado is a chain that has a lot of specialties from around the world. You can find items from Asia, Europe, and U.S.A. You will pay a hefty price for these items.
Pricesmart is hit and miss. Which is why it is 3rd on my list. They sometimes have good meat and sometimes they don’t. Where as the other two above are more consistent in the quality.
Restaurants are a different story. I have found a few in my 4+ years here, who have good steaks and do them well. Some have since gone away, but some have endured. You will pay more for eating those steak out rather than in, so if you are on a budget going to a restaurant to get good steak may not be in the cards for you. Here are my top restaurants where I have found good steaks. There may be others and if you know of some please post their information in the comments section. I would love to know where else to go!
Here in our little town of Atenas the only place I will eat steak is La Trocha. It is a family owned and operated restaurant. Not many know about it, but it is nice and the people are friendly and it is very tico. He has many items on his menu that are delicious. We do mainly go there for steak since it is the only place we feel in all of Atenas that has steak worth eating. Now it is a very tico place. Only the daughter if she is there speaks English so be prepared for that. It is a nice place to go no doubt. If you have not tried it you really should. I love the filet minion medium rare with the La Trocha sauce made spicy! Frank makes it hot, hot, hot for me! I love it!
8octavo roof top in Escazu has a really nice steak. This steak is going to cost you. Make sure you go with money in your pocket or a good balance on your credit card. You are getting a good steak, but for the value go with our #1 choice above. This is a great anniversary/special event type place. Not your once a week when you want a steak place.
Adacus Restaurant in Crocks casino is another good place. Now the steak on the menu is a platter they call it Waygu. I personally do not think it is. It could be low end waygu. None the less it was a delicious and tender $24 steak meal. I would get it again no doubt. I did not care of the sauces, but the veggies in the banana leaf were very tasty as well. Honestly almost any restaurant that serves steak in Jaco is worth eating. There are a number of restaurants that have delicious steaks. There is Graffiti , and Lemon Zest . Give any of them a try and you won’t be disappointed.
There is one place in Jaco I just found, that I mentioned above if you want to get good steaks, reasonable price for the house. There is a butcher shop called Jaco Fine Meats. It is a butcher shop that has some amazing meats, not just steak. If you are in the area take a cooler, get some ice and bring back some meat for your freezer. I just picked up 26 prime rib steaks for 12,950 colones per kilo. Which is about $10 per lb. You will not be disappointed if you go there!
This now ends my tale of meat in Costa Rica. I am once again a happy meat eater. It takes time, but you can find what you want in Costa rica. Sometimes you have to pay a little more, but sometimes you don’t. It all depends on how badly do you want what it is you want. This sometimes is the price you pay for living in paradise.
Today we planned a day out and about. Which in most places isn’t a problem. You go where you need to go and get what you need to get and you are done. Well not always in Costa Rica. Sometimes the smallest misstep could take you way out of the way.
We leave at 12:15 pm and head to our favorite pharmacy Farmacias San Gabriel and had I been thinking this would have been our 2nd stop not our 1st stop. It is on the way out of town so I drove there and than drove back into town to have lunch.
We had lunch at one of our favorite places, Kay’s Postres, Café & Restaurante Today’s special was a chicken parm with noodles. I have a picture that I can no longer access due to the reason for our trip out today. So no spoilers yet. Lunch was uneventful and very delicious. I also got some fresh off the farm pulled out the chickens butts today eggs from Mercedes. Which is awesome!
Back out of town we go and head to route 27 and as we drove by for a 2nd time we waved at the pharmacy for the 2nd time today. The travel was pretty uneventful until we miss our exit! Oh no! You say! Oh no is right! Unlike in the United states a missed exit is just a short turn around and back on track. Here in Costa Rica if you miss your exit this could take you miles and miles out of your way. This misstep cost me an additional 10 km (about 6 miles) of driving. It was in areas we were unfamiliar with, but with the help of Waze we were able to finally reach our destination.
If you don not have waze and travel in Costa Rica, you really should download it for your phone. It has been a while since we used it and it seems it has been taken over by Google. Now there are advertisements every time you stop. It use to work without wifi and now it seems it needs it. No worries. We have a wifi hotspot from movistar. We try to never leave home without it.
We finally reach City Mall , Yes I know it is easy to get to. Miss that exit and not so much. My wife Denise says she know right were we need to go.
Backstory: I have been in need of a phone for like 2 years. I resist getting one anytime I need it. It has finally gotten to the point that it will no longer charge and dies quickly. 2 years ago our pool guy dropped his phone in the pool. OH NO! Nope it was ok! The construction rental equipment company sells a C.A.T. phone. It is virtually indestructible. I want one. Many trips to the C.A.T. place in Sata Ana and no phone. They told me 3x come back next week and we will have them. So no luck and I took it as a sign and that a new phone was not needed. Fast forward a year and there is a Kiosks for C.A.T. in City Mall. A friend and my wife went there without me and saw it. Me being me just never got there.
Well until today and guess what! The kiosk is no longer there! Nope gone! Look there is a movistar place! So I bite the bullet and head in to look at phones. My current phone that has died is a Huawie and has an andriod operating system. This will be important later.
I go in look at phones and just can’t decide. Wife says, “Just get an Iphone!” Well I know the X is coming out and no way do I want it. Hopefully the older phone will be cheaper. Nope not in Costa Rica they are not. Actually more expensive. So 560,000 (about $970.00) colones later I have an Iphone 7 plus.
I ask can you transfer over my contacts. They hate to say NO so he says, “Yes”. When the time comes he tells me they could not do it. Oh joy all my contacts will have to be put in again. Oh well such is life.
Now he takes out my old sim card and sets up the new one because of course the Iphone 7 plus sim is a micro and I have a mini. So he fiddles with the phone. We wait and wait and he gives it to me to setup. Great! Wait! No Service. “Oh give it a few minutes”. Ok, one hour later it finally has service.
Yikes we have to get home. We ordered dinner to pick up at 5 pm. I stop at another Kiosk because I just paid over $900 for a phone that I know I will destroy. I pick up a case that is waterproof, shock proof, snow proof (Gods help me if I need this feature!) and dust proof (good feature for dry season!). Now we had home.
My GPS can get us there! Oh no wait it is now 5pm! Traffic!!!!!!!!! We made good time and go to the pickup at 5:30. Which was very good time! I am a fast driver when the road is clear to make up time.
Now I am setting up my new phone! Cross your fingers!
I have now lived in Costa Rica for 4 years going on 5 as of Feb. 2018. There are many facts I have found very interesting and not many people know.
Costa Rica is actually the Republic of Costa Rica.
Capital City: San Jose
Population: 4.8 million
Area: 51,100 sq km or for you non metric people 19,730 sq miles.
Languages: Spanish (official) and English
Life expectancy: Men 77 years and Women 82 years. Which I find interesting in general.
Fact 1: Did you know a majority of the public (who do not live here) think Costa Rica is an Island. As you can see below it is in fact not an island, as it is land locked in both it’s norther and southern region.
Fact 2: Costa Rica is a country in America! Many American’s from the United States come here and when asked where they are from say, “Oh I am an American from America” Really? So are the people who were born in Costa Rica! My sister came to visit me one year and we went to the Harley dealership. When asked if she had her Harley discount card with her she said, “Oh no I left it back in America”. Now the owner who was waiting on her said, “Good should be easy to get since you are in America!” My sister being who she is just looked at him and I had to explain it to her. So, remember when you are in Costa Rica you are still in America. Which is why Making America Great is a bad catch phase for a U.S. President. He has no control over the other countries that are a part of the Americas.
Fact 3: Costa Rica is the ONLY Central AMERICAN state that does not have an army. It was abolished in 1948.
Fact 4: There are only 114,000 indigenous people who live in Costa Rica. That is 2.4% of it’s total population. This fact shocked me. I did not realize that the people I have meet and called Tico are not really indigenous people. The history of the indigenous people here mirrors that of the Native American’s of the United States.
In 1977 an Indigenous Law was passed that created reserves where the indigenous people now live. They are still fighting for some of their rights in their own country.
There are 24 indigenous territories in Costa Rica. There are only 8 recognized indigenous ethnicity: Chorotegas, Bribri, Guatusos, Terraba, Huetares, Boruca, Cabecar and Ngobe.
Most tourist never meet or even know they exist. If you plan a trip to Costa Rica why not look some of these people up and visit!
Fact 5: Current President as of 2014 is Luis Guillermo Solis. He is a candidate of the moderate citizen Action Party (PAC). He won with a 78% vote. What is important about this is that his win ended their traditional two party system. The government in the past was either run by the National Liberation Party (PLN) or the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC). President Solis is not married but he is now engages to his life long girlfriend, and who is the mother of his children. In some respects Costa Rica is far ahead of the U.S.
Fact 6: More than 88% of the population have unrestricted access to the internet. Now the speed and the reliability of said internet varies from area to area.
I will end this blog with some Key dates in Costa Rica’s history: (source)
1502 – Christopher Columbus visits the area, naming it Costa Rica, (Rich Coast), but disease and resistance by the local population delay the establishment of a permanent settlement for nearly 60 years.
1540 onwards – Costa Rica is part of the vice-royalty of New Spain.
1561 – Spain’s Juan de Cavallon leads the first successful colonisers into Costa Rica.
1808 – Coffee is introduced into Costa Rica from Cuba and becomes the principal crop.
1821 – Central America gains independence from Spain. A dispute ensues over whether Costa Rica should join an independent Mexico or a confederation of Central American states.
1823 – Costa Rica joins the United Provinces of Central America, which also embraces El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
1824-25 – Province of Guanacaste secedes from Nicaragua and becomes part of Costa Rica.
1838 – Costa Rica becomes fully independent.
1849-59 – Under the leadership of Juan Rafael Mora, Costa Rica takes the lead in organising Central American resistance against William Walker, the US adventurer who took over Nicaragua in 1855.
1859 – Mora ousted in a bloodless coup.
1870-82 – Under the leadership of Tomas Guardia Costa Rica encourages intensive foreign investment in railways.
1874 – US businessman Minor Cooper Keith introduces banana cultivation and starts the United Fruit Company.
1917 – Frederico Tinoco ousts the elected president, Alfredo Gonzalez, but is himself deposed two years later.
Socialism and civil war
1940-44 – President Rafael Angel Calderon Guradia, founder of the United Christian Socialist Party (PUSC), introduces liberal reforms, including recognition of workers’ rights and minimum wages.
1948 – Six-week civil war over a disputed presidential election result.
1949 – New constitution gives women and people of African descent the right to vote; armed forces abolished and replaced by civil guard; Jose Figueres Ferrer, co-founder of National Liberation Party (PLN), elected president and begins ambitious socialist programme, including introducing a social security system and nationalising banks.
1958-73 – Costa Rica governed by mainly conservative administrations.
1963-64 – Irazu volcano erupts, causing serious damage to agriculture.
1968 – Arenal volcano erupts, causing many casualties.
1974 – Daniel Oduber (PLN) elected president and pursues socialist policies.
Conservatism and economic deterioration
1978 – Rodrigo Carazo, a conservative, elected president amid a sharp deterioration in the economy.
1982 – Luis Alberto Monge (PLN) elected president and introduces harsh austerity programme. Meanwhile, Costa Rica comes under pressure from the US to weigh in against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
1985 – US-trained anti-guerrilla force begins operating following clashes with Sandinista troops.
1986 – Oscar Arias Sanchez (PLN) elected president on a neutral platform.
1987 – Leaders of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras sign peace plan devised by Oscar Arias Sanchez, who in turn wins the Nobel Peace Prize for the plan.
1990 – Rafael Calderon, of the centrist PUSC, elected president.
1994 – Jose Maria Figueres Olsen (PLN) elected president.
1998 – Miguel Angel Rodriguez (PUSC) elected president.
2000 – President Rodriguez and his Nicaraguan counterpart resolve long-standing dispute over navigation along San Juan river, which serves as their border.
2002 April – Abel Pacheco of the ruling Social Christian Unity Party wins a comfortable 58% of the vote in the second round of presidential elections.
2003 May – Energy and telecommunications workers strike over President Pacheco’s privatisation plans; teachers strike over problems in paying their salaries. Strikes prompt three ministers to resign.
2004 July – Three Chilean diplomats are killed by a security guard at their embassy in San Jose.
2004 October – Mounting concern over corruption as three former presidents – Jose Maria Figueres, Miguel Angel Rodriguez and Rafael Angel Calderon – are investigated over contractor payments.
2005 January – National emergency declared as days of heavy rain lead to serious flooding along the Caribbean coast.
2006 February-March – Presidential election ends in a neck-and-neck race between Oscar Arias and Otton Solis. Mr Solis concedes defeat after a manual count and legal challenges.
2006 October – Two-day public workers strike is held in protest at proposed free trade deal with the US.
2007 May – Government says Costa Rica on course to become first voluntarily “carbon neutral” country.
2007 June – Costa Rica switches diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China in a bid to attract Chinese investment.
2007 October – National referendum narrowly decides in favour of ratifying the Central American Free Trade Agreement (Cafta).
2008 November – Chinese President Hu Jintao makes highest-level visit by a Chinese official since Costa Rica ended diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 2007.
2009 March – President Arias says Costa Rica to re-establish ties with Cuba, 48 years after they broken off in 1961.
2009 October – Former president Rafael Angel Calderon is sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of corruption.
First woman president
2010 February – Costa Rica elects first woman president, Laura Chinchilla, who takes office in May.
2011 March – UN International Court of Justice orders Nicaragua and Costa Rica to keep troops back from a disputed river border.
2012 September – A powerful earthquake kills two people in the Nicoya peninsula west of San Jose, coinciding with the eruption of the San Cristobal volcano in neighbouring Nicaragua.
2013 May – Costa Rica-based Liberty Reserve, considered to be the world’s biggest online currency exchange, is shut down after its founder is arrested on suspicion of money-laundering.
2014 April – Luis Guillermo Solis wins presidential election.
2014 August – The government says it will investigate undercover US programmes to destabilise Cuba allegedly operated from Costa RIca and using its citizens.
2015 March – The last of nearly 8,000 Cuban migrants stranded for nearly four months in Costa Rica, after Nicaragua refused them passage through its territory to reach the United States, leave for El Salvador as part of a pilot programme agreed by Central American countries to allow them safe passage to the US.
2015 December – Costa Rica wins a long-standing territorial row with Nicaragua after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rules it has sovereignty over a small patch of wetlands known as Isla Portillo on the San Juan river.
September 15th 1821 Costa Rica declared it’s independence from Spain. The 1st constitution was signed shortly after and they held their 1st elections in December 1821. The day is filled with laughter, joy and celebration. There are many parades all around Costa Rica.
This tradition of the torch run is based on the factual accounts of one Dolores Bedoya, a Guatemalan woman who took a torch in hand to celebrate the announcement of freedom from Spanish rule. This was actually communicated on September 14th, 1821, which is why most festivities begin on the 14th. She is also attributed to the National Anthem of Costa Rica being chanted at 6:00 pm on September 14th.
I guess it really has been that long! A lot has happened in two years. People have come and gone in our lives. Many have left Costa Rica for good. New people have come to Costa Rica. They say if you can make it past the 6th month in Costa Rica you can stay the rest of your life here, but that doesn’t always seem to be the case. The old country (for us the U.S.) seems to draw people back for one reason or another. Friends who have been here for 7 or more years have gone back to the U.S. for one reason or another. Many where very happy here but their spouses were not. Sometimes they just missed their family too much. Others for health reasons, but this one I don’t understand as the healthcare here is wonderful! Maybe my next blog will be on the healthcare systems here. Whatever the reason they have left many others have come. Seems to be a net effect of people leaving and moving here.
So a little history: A long story short! Kay and Tom opened up Kay’s many years ago. 3 years ago they sold the restaurant to Harold and Lisa. They too have now left Costa Rica about 5 months ago. So they owned it for about 3 years or so. Now it is owned by Ania and Tomek. They moved here from Canada but they are both originally from Poland. Their families both migrated to Canada when they were 11 years old. Great people! They are doing the one and only original Kay proud no doubt.
Kay and Tom were very missed by the community and we decided to see if we could get them to come back for a visit. We had been trying for years and schedules just didn’t seem to work out, but finally in May 2017 we did it! With the help of our Auntie Laurel (well we call her that and she is sister to Kay not by blood) we were able to bring Kay back for a visit. Tom had other commitments and was unable to join her.
Here are some pictures of Kay’s return:
Here are just a couple of videos:
Mercede’s and Katia see Kay for the 1st time. They had no clue she was coming for a visit. I had to lie to them whenever they asked me about Kay and if I thought she would come for a visit. I think they forgive me. 🙂
We had a party that day where a select group got to see her 1st as well. `
This was about 9 days of food, hugs, tears, and just plain fun! Kay stayed with us at our house for the most part and we were at Kay’s restaurant every day for lunch so people could meet up and get to see her. It was a great time no doubt.
As this blog started so it shall end. Kay returned to the U.S. and life went back to normal. More tears for her departure back, but it was fun! We will always remember the good times!
So to now this blog must end. I hope you enjoyed it. I will try to keep up with it once again. Have a great day and
Thursday is a Beach Day and I decided I needed to have a hat that would cover my face – more than a baseball cap would.
Asked Denise and Michele if they would like to go to MultiPlaza on Sunday; they agreed to go. Spent most of the day there….yes, during the World Cup, we were shopping!
I look stupid in hats; just plain stupid!!! Felt even more stupid when I tried on “visor-type” with the top of my head sticking out. We searched and searched; into any store that had hats. Most hats are too big for me unless I stick my ears inside the hat, which is uncomfortable. However, if I “sit” it on top of my head, one gust of wind and off it will go!
Tried many hats with various brims sizes; finally settled on one; has any one bought a hat for themselves they have…
Today we decided to take a trip to Zarcero and boy and I glad we did! I went with the wife and 2 friends. It was a really good trip. Good company beautiful town and just a wonderful feel. Boy if I knew about this place it could have been in the running for where we may live instead of Atenas, but I really do lover our town of Atenas.
Our morning started at 10:45 as we drove off out on our adventure. We stopped to pick up one friend, the other drove to our house. We went to the gas station to fill up. Not that it was that far, but I have learned that in Costa Rica you should always fill up before you go on any adventure to anywhere you have never been before. You just don’t know what will happen.
It was a pretty uneventful drive. We had good company so the drive went pretty quickly. The roads can be a little twisty and windy from Atenas, but during the day and when it isn’t raining its pretty easy.
We got there right at 12:00 on the dot! It was time for lunch and we really wasn’t sure where to go. As we drove into town one of our friends saw a little shop area that had 2 restaurants listed. One had fast food in its name so we figured we would check out the other. So we go in and can’t find the one that was listed that wasn’t fast food. I went upstairs and saw what could have been it, but it wasn’t open. So we decided to take a chance. Here are some photo’s of the little center.
Oh my are we glad we took the chance. The food was amazing and the prices were just as amazing! Dingo’s fast food is where we ate. Don’t let the words Fast Food fool you. It was nothing like fast food!
Patacones were ok. So at this point we were not 100% sure this was a right decision, but than we tasted the salsa! It was delicious! So we had hope. The only problem with this was there was way too much breading and too little plantains. This was 1,450 colones.
My friends call me the Salad Nazi and with good reason. I am very picky over my salads. Now this doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value to it, but let me tell you it was good. The chicken was a pleasant surprise. This was the Ensalada Dingo. I don’t think that was dingo on our plate! The croutons were toasted bread and not too soft but not too hard either. The dressing was a ranch and just ok, but he chicken was the hero here. The added ham and cheese was nice as well. This was 2,950 colones and actually it was enough to be a nice lunch in and of its self. \
Next up our friend got the Super Hamburgesa. This is a direct quote from our friend who ordered it, “This is the best hamburger I have ever had in Costa Rica.” This is high praise coming from her. It had 2 kinds of cheese, pickles and just a small piece of bacon, but it was about 1/2 lb of burger! It came with a side of fries. This cost 2,950 colones as well and well worth the price!
There is that wonderful salsa again! This was a Burrito and again direct quote, “One of the best I have had!” So again another winner and it comes in at 2,800 colones.
Ok so Alitas Buffalo and there are 7 of them here. I took some flack for putting Hooters on my top 10 restaurants list and this place knocks them off! I would have liked a little more heat, but there was enough to make me happy and not too much that some who doesn’t like a lot of heat wouldn’t want to eat them. They were crispy and the breading was very different, but wonderful. They were very generously sauced as you can see. 7 of them cost 1,900 colones. Amazing price!
This was the Costilla BBQ which is BBQ ribs. They cut them into pieces which made it easier to eat. Left the bone so you have to watch when you bit them. Pretty good. Wasn’t a wonderful BBQ sauce, but it was good. Now these potatoes were amazing! I don’t know what they did to them, but they were very tasty and flavorful! This dish was 4,000 colones.
Ok so I was a little skeptical about getting the Churrasco. I am glad I did. Again served with those wonderful potatoes! The side salad was the same minus the chicken as our main salad. So the steak I am going to let this video speak for me.
Yes it was that tender. It needed a little salt, but other than that it was really good! So very surprised and wasn’t not expected this from a little shop that had Fast Food in its name! It was a good 6oz cooked so a good size. It cost 3,450 colones. I was shocked!
We also got 2 Cafe Negro, 1 Te frio and 4 Coke lights. The cold drinks were 1,000 colones each and the coffee was only 600 colones. We also got a dessert that we shared. I didn’t get a picture of it. There was a cinnamon roll and a fruit roll and I swear it was made from angle food cake batter. We couldn’t believe it. Very nice and it was only 500 colones for each one. Very good deal.
So total for our lunch for 4 with all that food and drink was only 29,450 colones or $53.69 for those who don’t know the conversion. I was amazed! It is one of those great accidental finds that you just never know will happen. We are so glad we decided to take a chance and not go anywhere else.
Now we get to the reason we were in Zarcero. We went for the garden and the church. Both were amazing! Love the beauty of the gardens and the church. So here are the pictures I took at the garden. Click on the images below to see larger views.
The other reason we went was to visit the church. It is one beautiful place, no doubt. The art and paintings are amazing. So here are the photo’s I took while at the church. Again click on the images below to see larger views.
Over all it was a very nice day. Good friends, Good food, beautiful town and a wonderful drive. If you get a chance you should go visit this wonderful place and eat at that wonderful restaurant. Here is the blog of one of the friends that went with us. Check it out. Keeping you in Stitches
The only downside was the drive home. The rain held out until we were ready to leave, but I had to drive those twisty windy roads in the rain. We made it home safe and sound and that is all that matter.
By the end of our fourth day on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, we had seen, according to the tally kept by my 9-year-old, Sasha, dozens of species of animals. We had peered at leafcutter ants, army ants and zombie ants. We had been deafened by howler monkeys, beguiled by squirrel monkeys and strangely stirred by capuchin monkeys, whose feet bear an eerie resemblance to human hands. That afternoon, in the national park that covers a third of the peninsula, we had even spied two tapirs, endangered mammals that look like hornless rhinoceroses with long snouts.
To sample this extravaganza of biodiversity, we had risen early each morning of our vacation. So when our guide informed us that he would be taking us out at 4:30 a.m. to witness the rain forest waking up, I — the motivating force behind, and thus bearer of responsibility for, this trip — glanced apprehensively at my family and swallowed hard.
“We’ll be up!” I said brightly.
I had shepherded Sasha and my husband, Scott, to Osa in hopes of a tropical wildlife experience that was, in fact, wild. But as we crawled into our tent that night, the beaten path from which I had so resolutely steered clear was starting to look more inviting.
Costa Rica, home to large tracts of untouched yet accessible rain forest, had seemed the obvious place to immerse ourselves in nature for a week in February. On Facebook, people responded with the Costa Rican phrase “pura vida!” (“pure life”) at the mere mention of the country. We had admired photographs of bright-colored birds, frogs and butterflies from the preserves near the capital, San José, which could be reached by direct flight from New York. The ubiquitous “canopy tours” through the treetops seemed a great way to indulge Sasha’s love of zip lining.
But as I researched where to go in the West Virginia-size country, I began to suspect that its popular ecotourist destinations might not quench my yearning for the untamed. On TripAdvisor, phrases like “well-developed” and the less-charitable “Disneyfied” arose in regard to the storied Monteverde Cloud Forest in the central highlands. Manuel Antonio National Park on the central Pacific Coast, widely loved for its beaches and restaurants, was reportedly better for night life than wildlife.
The more people who can enjoy the rain forest without destroying it the better, of course: The 70,000 or so who visit a sliver of Monteverde each year help pay to preserve the rest of it. But the remote Osa Peninsula, which juts into the Pacific Ocean from Costa Rica’s southwestern corner, seemed to hold an increasingly rare chance to observe the rain forest in all its fecund, carbon-storing, oxygen-producing glory, without quite so much human company.
Mostly mentioned in travel guides as an alternative for those who had hit the other highlights, Osa did not rank on Lonely Planet’s list of “Top 10 Costa Rica Spots for First-Timers.” To get there requires a second flight or a seven-hour drive from San José. And while the draw is the 160-square-mile Corcovado National Park, accommodations there are limited to a few dozen bunks and a tent platform at the Sirena Ranger Station.
I mapped a tentative itinerary that would bring us to each of two jumping-off points to the park, Puerto Jiménez to the southeast, and Drake Bay to the northwest, both of which have several excellent lodging options. In between, we would stay one night in the park, perhaps the last refuge in the country, I read, of the sweet-looking Baird’s tapirs Sasha and I had fallen for while searching online for “Costa Rica animals.”
An email from a well-traveled friend sealed the deal: “Costa Rica is very touristy,” he wrote. “Osa is not.”
Our first stop, Bosque del Cabo, was a 40-minute ride by taxi from Puerto Jiménez, the biggest town on the peninsula with a population of 1,780. I had chosen one of the two cabins at Bosque just steps from the rain forest, at the edge of a large clearing planted with native trees and plants. A half-mile away from the main lodge area, these “garden cabinas” are reached by a trail through the forest that crosses high above a river over a suspension bridge.
“We ask that only guests that feel they will be comfortable with the walk and the increased isolation of these accommodations book into them,” the lodge’s website warns.
Any pangs I might have had about passing up the dozen or so bungalows with ocean views disappeared as soon as we found ourselves in the company of spider monkeys, swinging from branch to branch at eye level on our first pass over the bridge. The lodge staff member escorting us waited patiently, albeit with the amusement of a New Yorker watching tourists marvel at pigeons.
“Do you feed them?” I couldn’t help asking. He assured me they did not.
A few steps off the bridge, we stopped short with the odd sensation that the earth was shifting under our feet. The highway of leafcutter ants hauling their leaf-bits toward the entrance to their underground caverns was our first inkling, repeatedly confirmed over the next few days, that they were in charge there. (“Are there more ants in Costa Rica than there are humans in the world?” Sasha would ask. Answer: many more).
Bosque itself sits on 750 acres that encompass some primary-growth rain forest and large swaths of “jungle,” rain forest that has grown back on land that had once been cleared — in Bosque’s case, for cattle grazing. We would have virtually no chance of seeing a tapir on the hotel’s trails, the staff told us candidly (even in Corcovado, we were told, our chances were 50-50). But we spotted poison dart frogs, lizards and monkeys dozing in the sun. A wild pig called a peccary often visited the lodge’s modest pool, where we cooled off and sipped ginger lemonades.
The hotel also offered nature-oriented activities: One morning we rappelled 70 feet down a strangler fig tree, another we hiked down the empty beach to a waterfall, splashing in the tide pools that form in the reef formations along the way. On an evening wildlife tour, the hotel naturalist taught us the trick of holding our flashlights against our temples, revealing the reflection of thousands of spider eyes shining in the grass.
Dinner, served buffet-style with a bounty of delicious choices (panko-crusted eggplant, roasted hearts of palm, crispy chicken with figs) was eaten at communal tables. And if I needed validation on my destination choice, we found ourselves dining more than once with others who had firsthand knowledge of Costa Rica’s well-traveled spots.
“Osa is — crunchier,” said one civil rights lawyer from Washington, D.C., as Sasha and another girl her age excused themselves to look at the bats hanging from the bamboo light fixtures.
His wife, a judge, concurred about their desire for a less-processed experience.
“More what we had in mind when we thought about Costa Rica,” she said.
In our cabin, open on three sides, we felt less like observers than residents of the forest, along with monkeys playing in the trees directly above us and the leafcutter ants below. One late afternoon, a rainbow of toucans and scarlet macaws flew by a few feet away, on their way to the fruit trees in the clearing behind us.
Yet knowing that the trees had been planted to attract the birds undercut, just a bit, the pleasure of their proximity. Perhaps it was our own fault, too, for being diverted by rappelling adventures and poolside lemonades. But when we landed the next morning at the ranger station, the headquarters of Corcovado park, it quickly became apparent that there would be no distractions from the natural world. Other than lounging on the shaded porch of the low-slung ranger station, there was really was nothing to do but be in it.
Our guide, Nito Paniagua, who met us in Puerto Jiménez for the 15-minute charter flight, lost no time snagging us a spot on the tent platform at the station and heading out on a trail to the river.
The park has just started requiring tourists to be accompanied by a guide, but in any case we would have been lost without Nito’s six senses. He caught lizards and hung them from our ears, trained his scope on resplendent birds no one else could see and produced bats from furled-up leaves.
“Look at the two species playing together,” he said at the trail’s entrance, pointing his viewing scope so we could see the howler and spider monkeys teasing each other in the branches above. “That’s so nice to see.”
Unlike the many hardy backpacker types who had walked 12 miles or more to camp at Sirena, we were not big hikers. But the walk down to the river where we ate lunch was not so much strenuous as it was intense. It took two hours only because we stopped every few steps for a new creature: the bird with the small heart, the carnivorous cricket, bright blue butterflies, the notorious fer-de-lance snake.
And because Nito had quickly divined that we were keen to see tapirs, he brought us to a spot where they are known to nap.
That we were lucky enough to see two of them through the trees from perhaps 50 feet away was one reason for the collective groan that night when Nito announced the 4:30 a.m. wake-up call.
What else, we wondered, did we have to see that couldn’t wait until dawn?
In my grogginess I left the tent without my glasses and had to run back to get them while Scott, Sasha and Nito waited for me on the grass beyond the porch of the ranger station. We stopped to admire a spider web at the start of the dirt trail, then traipsed on toward the beach where Nito wanted us to watch the sky grow light.
That was when the tapir came crashing out of the forest right in front of us. My heart beating hard, I held my breath, wishing I could freeze the moment. Scott and Sasha, too, stood transfixed. For just a split second, the large, strange animal seemed to register our presence. Then the tapir lumbered away from us, down the trail, toward the river as we followed, until it veered off into the darkness.
I didn’t know it until then, but this, more than anything, was what I had hoped we would find on the Osa Peninsula. It wasn’t like seeing an animal lured to a spot by human guile, or to where all the guides know it’s likely to go on its own. If I hadn’t forgotten my glasses, we might well have missed it.
It felt wild.
There was no shortage of moments like that in our short time at Sirena. Sasha’s favorite siting may have been the anteater carrying a baby on her back all the way up to the top of a tree, spied that morning after a breakfast of eggs and ham that was, like our dinner there the night before, plain but tasty. We all oohed over the baby hummingbirds in the nest Nito found, and the baby hawks the ranger showed us through his scope in between his other chores at the understaffed station.
Before we left, we walked one more trail, cooler and less dense than the one we had taken the previous day because the soaring tree canopies blocked the light others might use to grow. The logging and slash-and-burn agriculture that had prompted the formation of the park in 1975, Nito told us, had never reached here. As we stumbled into a clearing where one tree, an espavel, or wild cashew, towered some 150 feet above us, we stood again in silent awe. That tens of thousands of acres of such forest are destroyed each day worldwide seemed inconceivable.
Most life in the rain forest, Nito reminded us, lives in the canopy, and never descends to the forest floor. Speaking of untamed, no one even knows entirely what’s up there.
We might have been happy staying longer at Sirena had our tent been pitched on the lawn, rather than the platform, which was hot and crowded at night. (Nito was scheming to go in with other guides on tents with rain flaps that could be used on the lawn.) The ticks, albeit not disease carrying, were also not a plus, especially for Sasha, who pried five off her legs.
As it was, we were happy to get to our final Osa destination, La Paloma Lodge on Drake Bay, after an hourlong boat ride from Corcovado that afternoon. It felt good to take a hot shower and to enjoy the rain forest as a view from the hotel’s elegant dining room, set high on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean.
At night, Tracie Stice, a local naturalist universally known as the “bug lady,” showed us a scorpion (“Don’t sit down,” she suggested as we leaned against the stone wall) and gently pried open the well-camouflaged home of a “trap-door” spider so that we could see the creature promptly slam it shut again.
On our last day, we went on a decidedly human-manufactured, 13-zip-line canopy tour arranged for us, a highlight of the trip for Sasha. But when Scott asked her which leg of the trip she would eliminate, if she had to lose one, she couldn’t choose. Like her parents, she could have happily lived for decades in our first cabin. She wouldn’t give up zip lining.
“And I can’t take out Sirena,” she said. “Because that’s where we saw everything.”
Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well! If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!
So I am making a new post and need help from you the readers. Given the conversation created from my top 10 Restaurant list on a number of facebook groups I have decided to create a new list complied from you the views recommendations.
Send me your top 10 restaurants list. I will than compile them into one post. Give Restaurant name, a web link (Facebook is best but whatever you can find. Tripadvisor whatever) if possible if not than directions, tell us what is best to eat there.
Send it to email@example.com. all entries have to be in by midnight on Tuesday 6/24/14 Costa Rica Time so I can post it on Wed.
You have to be able to get a meal for 2 for under $60. Appetizers, drinks (non-alcoholic), entree and dessert. That is tax and tip included in the $60.
Thanks for all your help. Oh and the restaurant has to be in Costa Rica. I didn’t think that needed to be said, but I guess it does. 🙂
Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well! If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!
Costa Rica is one of the safest and most exciting places to visit in Central America. The Central Valley area has a wide variety of fun activities with something for everyone. Whether you want to relax, have an adventure, or both, the following things to do will be sure to please novice and seasoned travelers alike.
National Theatre of Costa Rica
If you are flying into or out of San Jose, you will find that Costa Rica’s capital city has plenty of unique attractions. The National Theatre of Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful and ornate buildings in the country. With famous paintings, lavish furnishings, and a floor comprised solely of Costa Rican woods, this cultural landmark is not to be missed.
Pop quiz: where is the world’s largest collection of jade located? Hint: it is not in Asia. This fabulous and famous collection can be found in the heart of San Jose. The museum also features many pre-Columbian gold artifacts. It is a must for everyone who loves rich and sparkly things.
Catch a Saprissa Soccer Game
Even if futbol is not your favorite sport, taking in a home game at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayma will give you a taste of local Costa Rican flavor like nothing else can! Ticos are passionate about Saprissa and many of their players headline Costa Rica’s national team.
Our Lady of the Angels Basilica
Costa Rica is a Catholic country with no shortage of churches done in the old Spanish style. If you love beautiful architecture, you will adore this Basilica in Cartago, outside San Jose. Outside the church, a spring with healing waters can cure your ailments. Inside, the statue of La Negrita the Black Madonna is usually covered with many charms shaped like body parts for Our Lady to heal. There really is nothing like it anywhere else in the country!
Located in the Alajuela Province, this is one of the most active volcanoes in the country. Scientists think that a new eruption is imminent given the noisy gas that can be seen rising from the crater. The sulfur and other chemicals give the water in the crater an usual grayish hue. Get there early because you will enjoy a lovely view of the Central Valley from the crater’s viewing platform. However at about 9AM clouds will completely obscure it for the rest of the day. It is called a cloud forest for a reason! Despite standing on an active volcano, you should dress for the cold and wet. The hiking trails offer many opportunities for bird watching.
What can’t you do at this lush rainforest? Enjoy a tram ride, zip lining, and hiking. Exhibits include hummingbirds, snakes, butterflies, and much more. Explore the waterfalls and observe scientists at their work in the biological research station. You will certainly achieve a better appreciation for this beautiful ecosystem after this fun and educational visit.
Doka Coffee Plantation
What trip to Costa Rica would be complete without a trip to a coffee plantation? This plantation is unique to the especially immersive tours that are offered. The tour begins at the seedbed and takes you all the way through the coffee making process. There are also free samples of Costa Rica’s most notable export for everyone to try.
This bridge in the Alajuela Province is famous for its smiling crocodiles. Enjoy these wonders of nature from the top of the bridge but don’t get too close! Disney World this isn’t!
Botanical Orchid Garden
A stop at this beautiful location in La Garita will please any gardener you may be traveling with. With hundreds of rare and beautiful orchids and other tropical flowers, something is always in bloom for you to admire.
Atenas Central Park
Get a taste of classic Costa Rica at this quaint park. With lots of trails that wind through the palm trees and other tropical vegetation, you can work up quite a sweat! Afterwords, grab a refreshing traditional repast at any of the little restaurants around the park.
In Atenas on a Friday afternoon? Get a taste of local culture and flair at this market. Fresh produce and traditional handicrafts are on offer and haggling can be fun!
Atenas Swimming Pool
Atenas is more of a mountain town and is a little bit of a drive from the beach. If you need to take a dip, there are two public swimming pools. Bring a picnic lunch and prepare to spend the day swimming and sunning.
I think that about covers it. That is more than you can do in 10 days. 🙂 Well maybe. So come and enjoy!
Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well! If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!
I was picking pineapples this morning, and I still had some fruit to use up…This might seem over-simplistic – but I have friends who have lived here for years who don’t know how to make the juices, (locally called frescos, or batidos when made with milk).
This is a good thing to do with all of the citrus fruits, guyaba hawaiana, guanabana. papaya, sancoya, starfruit, berries, pineapple, and what we have above, maracuya, aka passionfruit. The citrussy fruits don’t work well with milk, but papaya, berries and banana make excellent milkshakes type goodies – perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up.
My general recipe: 1/4 part fruit, 3/4 part water (or milk) and sugar to taste. In the case of some fruits that are strong flavored, like the passionfruit or limes, you use less fruit and more water. With experimentation, tasting and practice, you figure out how you like it.
Costa Rica is a small country located in Central America with a population of around 4.7 million with 7 provinces and a lot of beautiful places to visit. It’s a very popular country for tourists to come visit when they want to be in the heat, relax at the beach and see nature. But what most tourists don’t see is what the country is like, so read on to learn all about Costa Rica, from the eyes of a Tico!
I am proud to say that I am Costarican even though I know that we have a lot of things to improve. But every time I watch the news or read about attacks, terrorism or nuclear weapons, I say to myself that I am lucky to live in a country like this.
We might not have super fast Internet speed like South Korea, the USA infrastructure or huge cities, but we don’t have to worry about paying taxes to finance an army or paying deep student loans since Costa Rican education is not as expensive as other countries.
The education in Costa Rica is for free and mandatory at the age of 6, kids starts kindergarten, then elementary school for 6 years, and finally to high school for 5 years. After you graduate from high school you can apply to go to a public university. Most of the Costaricans go to public universities since they are nearly for free and most of the times you get scholarships. The education level here is very good, people go to NASA and work for huge companies that move here because of the quality of our education.
My brother is a doctor and he works for the government. Every time I go to the EBAIS (that’s how we call the local clinics), I feel so lucky because we get all the medication and tests for free as we pay 9.17% tax out of our salaries for health insurance. I am very happy with our medical system. Sometimes you have to have a little bit of patience but you do receive excellent service.
Our economy is not as good as our beaches but we are number 11 in Latin America and like I mentioned before, several companies are moving to Costa Rica to open their operation centers such as: P&G, Amazon, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Bank of America and many more.
The Costa Rican minimum salary is 270 000 colones (Around $540) a month which depends on your education. For example, a doctor can make a base salary of $2,000 a month and a janitor around $600 but thanks to all the offshore companies, salaries are getting better. If you work for Amazon, the minimum you can make is $800 a month.
I know it doesn’t sound like $85,000 a year but if you compare it with our cost of living it makes sense. I pay $400 a month for my apartment rent which is average for the coast. In the city, you can rent a house for $300 a month.
I love beer and it is an excellent economy indicator because the price in the supermarket is around $1 and $2 in a bar. The price of gasoline is high compared to the US, a liter cost around 700 colones (around $5.3 a gallon) but prices are changing constantly.
Just like any country you can find poor people and wealthy people but on average we have a good life. We don’t have that much money to spend on new things but we do what we can to have quality time. It is common for people to live well into their 90’s and 100’s here.
Nowadays it is normal to find people from all over the world living in Costa Rica. I went to the mall the other day and I thought I was in the states as everyone was gringo and Chinese people own 90% of all the minimarkets. But I love the diversity here, you can have a Chinese New Year celebration and a Thanksgiving dinner. I love food so every celebration is more than welcome for me!
Most of the Costarican are Catholics (80%) but you can find big groups of Christians, Jews, Mormons and any other kind of religion here, we respect everyone’s beliefs.
We are a democratic country so we chose a new president every 4 years. The main political groups are Liberación Nacional and PAC.
Our main transportation system is the bus system. It needs a bit more work but if you have patience you can go to almost anywhere in the country and it is very cheap.
But our biggest treasure of all is our nature, 25% of the territory is protected and we shelter almost 6% of the world’s biodiversity which is not bad for a country that covers only 0.03% of the world. So if you are looking for rainforests, jungles, black and white sand beaches, volcanoes, rivers, or any kind of flora and fauna, this is the right place. I’d probably have to write a hundred different posts just on the types of birds that are here!
Quality time and life: that’s the most important thing you can have, you don’t need to have too much in order to have a quality life. Costa Rica has given me so much, every day I learn something new. Ticos (nickname of costaricans) are very nice people, we love to talk to people even if we don’t know them and we try to help as much as we can. We respect laws but we are not afraid of the police or the government.
This post was about Costa Rica through the eyes of a Costarican and I may be missing some more points but feel free to ask me whatever you want in the comment section and you will get a Tico point of view!
I am starting a properties for rent (long term or short term) page on my website. Send me the details of your rental to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post it on our blog (one post) and list it on our bestofcostaricas.net page for 1 month at $25. $15 of that will be added to the Charity fund. The money in that fund will get distributed to a charity voted on by my readers each month.We have a world wide viewership. We will push your listing to our facebook page when we do your blog posting, that has almost 6K likes from people around the world and some posts get upwards of 50K views. Here is a screen shot of the last message we pushed on Facebook. We do have plans available for more views on Facebook. Ask us for our rates.
Posting your listing to our page is on a 1st come 1st serve basis. 1st to pay and get us information will be at the top of the page. We have other available pricing to keep your listing above everyone else. You may send us a detailed description of no more than 300 words, and upto 8 pictures. We will adjust size of pictures as needed on the page. Should be no larger than 425×285 pixels. Which is the size of the For Rent image above. Payment is only accepted by US paypal.
If this goes well I will also add a For Sale page as well with a Flat advertising fee per month.
Well we have only raise $18 so far since yesterday and that includes my matching contribution. Does not bold well for the charity that wins. 😦 Whatever money will roll over into the next month and than may go to another charity that wins in that month. I’m pushing as best I can and trying to come up with some good designs. There has to be a min. of $100 in the pot in order to send to the charity, other wise it rolls over into the next month where the votes start all over again. Any suggestions on designs send them to me at Email Best of Costa Rica. Just as an FYI if you want something other than Costa Rica and Pura Vida and the CR flag, send me what you want and on which design and I will swamp it out. So you Canadians and US Citizens just let me know. I will make the same designs with your home country in place of Costa Rica.
Update only 1 purchase has been made. So without purchases the voting will be moot for this month. It will have to carry over to next month. If you don’t see something you like let me know what you want to see and I will get working on creating it for you.
As promised here is the poll. So vote for your favorite. the money for the Charity that wins the poll will come from 3 sources.
PUBLISHED: 23:01 GMT, 10 June 2014 | UPDATED: 07:48 GMT, 11 June 2014
Many of us would run a mile rather than listen to the travel recommendations of friends who have just returned from an exotic part of the world complete with sun tans, very long anecdotes and overly effusive comments about how ‘you really should go yourselves.’
But if we were all to base our future holiday arrangements on the advice of others, it seems that – according to a new study – we would all be packing our bags for Costa Rica.
New research conducted by the Global Tourism Monitor Survey asked a total of 23,000 holidaymakers, in 26 different countries around the world, to name the destination that they would most recommend to others based on their own travel experiences.
Those questioned as part of the survey were restricted to countries they had visited in the previous 12 months, and asked whether they would or wouldn’t tell others to follow suit.
The number of people who criticised a recent holiday destination was then subtracted from the number praising a place as visit-worthy, to produce a net score for each country.
And the Central American republic came top of the tree with a score of 63 – finishing a clear five points ahead of Austria and Israel (both 58), New Zealand (57) and Italy (56).
Although not, perhaps, well known to British holidaymakers, Costa Rica’s appeal is easy to fathom.
It is one of only seven countries able to boast coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (the others are Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico), and as such, is home to a wealth of wonderful beaches.
Britain performed relatively well in the survey, polling a score of 52, finishing in joint tenth position along with Canada and Greece.
Other countries fared less well in this court of popular opinion.
Tunisia was the only country in the survey to ‘achieve’ the dubious feat of a negative score, polling a dreadful -7.
The ten most recommended destinations…
1. Costa Rica
4. New Zealand
10= Canada, Greece, UK
…and the ten with the fewest fans
And the Far East also fell foul of plenty of tourists.
Although it can boast the sunshine island of Bali, and some of the world’s most pristine areas of rainforest, Indonesia finished second bottom of the pile with a score of just four.
Perhaps surprisingly, China – home to the exciting cities of Beijing and Shanghai, plus the historic wonder of the Great Wall – came third last, polling a meagre five.
And Malaysia contributed to a miserable survey for the Far East, slumping to fourth bottom with an unimpressive recommendation rating of six.
Eastern Europe also found itself on the receiving end of traveller discontent.
Ukraine was the fourth of over 70 states included in the survey to manage a rating of less than ten, with a score of only eight – a vote of no-confidence from holidaymakers which will not, perhaps, come as the biggest shock in light of the current troubles in the country.
But Albania (18 points), Russia (20) and Bulgaria (21) will wonder who they offended.
‘This study is one of the most broadly based assessments of recent tourism experiences and future intentions,’ says Jon Young, on behalf of the Global Tourism Monitor Survey.
‘It looks at destination appeal and the likelihood of recommending a country based solely on personal experience in the last 12 months.’
The results, Mr Young says, make happy reading for Britain.
‘It’s a credit to the UK that it has achieved a high joint tenth position in a league table.of more than 70 countries, especially given the competition of countries with more favourable climates,’ he continues.
‘Overseas visits rose to 32.8million in 2013, up 5.6 per cent on 2012, and the prominence of the UK is good news for our tourism sector and the overall economy.’
Half of the 26 countries consulted as part of the survey were in Europe (Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Russia, UK and Ukraine).
Eight Asian countries (India, China, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) were also involved, with four countries in the Americas (USA, Canada, Mexico and Brazil), plus Australia, rounding out the line-up.
There was a question posted today in a facebook group I am the admin of. The person recently got stopped by immigration police and was asked for his passport. Well he didn’t have it on him. Now they could have impounded his car, taken him to the police station and processed him to the immigration center for deportation. He used the “No Habla Espanol” trick which will only work once in a blue moon, so he was very, very lucky. Here is my suggestion to you.
Passport. If you do not want to carry your passport with you you should have a copy of the main page with photo all information. It should be a color copy. You also need your most recent visa stamp page as well.
If you have submitted your paperwork for residency and received your expedente papers you should have that as well.
If you are driving you should always have either your Costa Rican license (if you were lucky enough to have one) or your home country license with you.
If you are lucky enough to have one your cedula. If you have a cedula the other items with the exception of some form of drivers license is not necessary.
Again driving you should have a copy of all the information needed in relation to the car in the glove compartment. Copy of title, registration, and insurance (other than you marchomo sticker if you have it).
That should keep you covered should you be stopped by any of the police that are here in Costa Rica. Any of them can ask for any ID they deem necessary to verify that you are here and you are here legally.
Selvatura Adventure Park, Monteverde Ronald Reyes/The Tico Times
Rain forests, volcanoes, world-class beaches, great weather, sloths, what’s not to like? A new global survey confirmed that tourists love Costa Rica, naming the country most recommended tourism destination in the world.
The Global Tourism Monitor Survey asked 23,000 globetrotters from 26 countries where they had traveled during the previous 12 months and which destination they would more recommend based on their experience there. The report, released Monday, ranked the top 65 most recommended destinations.
Austria came in second, followed by Israel, New Zealand and Italy.
Ukraine, Malaysia, China, Indonesia and Tunisia were the five least recommended destinations, according to the survey conducted by BDRC Continental.
While Costa Rica placed atop the list of most recommended destination, no other Latin American country made the top 10.
Latin America and the Caribbean placed among the least popular regions with only 6 percent of respondents saying they were “seriously” planning to travel to the region. Europe ranked the highest among potential travelers with 43 percent planning to travel there, followed by 27 percent in the Asian Pacific. Only 4 percent said they planned to take their holiday in Africa or the Middle East.
Costa Rica received a record-breaking 2.4 million tourists during 2013, according to the Costa Rican Tourism Board.
Here’s the list of the top 10 most recommended destinations (with a three-way tie for 10th place):
Sorry for the long update, but 7th and 8th were pretty boring days. Just sat at home, watched some TV. Started to watch the Orange is the new black, and trying to catch up on American Horror story. We are starting season 3 The Coven. Hopefully it is as good as the others were. We did some shopping and stuff on the 9th so lets get to that.
Day 9 was a busy day as Monday’s usually are. The housekeeper and Gardener was here. So that is when we do a lot of our running for the week as they will keep and eye on the dogs for us. We did happen to have a little mishap while we were gone. The gardener accidentally hit the pipe coming from the solar hot water on our rancho roof to the pool. 😦 He ran down to the gate and had them call our pool guy who came right out and patched it. He fixed it today on the 10th. So won’t see that bill until next month. He only sends a bill once a month. Otherwise the house ran smoothly while we were gone.
We went to see the dietitian as we do on Mondays. Had a good week my wife and I both lost weight. So cheers! Even though I am no longer on the diet she till wanted to weigh me and measure me. She is interested in how I am doing. She follows me on facebook and looks at my fitbit auto post to my timeline that shows what my exercise is and what I am eating. Its a great tool for weight loss.
After we were done there we heading to Escazu to go to Pricesmart to pick up dog food. Well we decided to have lunch at the Avaneda. We scoped out a place we have never been before. You will see it on the budget. It is our 1st time there and I doubt we will be back. I will be writing a review in the next couple of days so look out for that as well.
Lunch ran pretty long about 2 hours so by the time we were done I was kind of done so I wanted to head home. Then I realized we really need dog food and really need to pay the electric bill. So we head off to the bank to take out some cash. We head to the local grocery store which is really nice and in expensive. I also realized once we were there I needed to pick up a few other things as well so we walked the entire store. We also pay our Electric and Cable/internet bills there. I did make a mistake on my internet bill and have corrected it on the budget sheet. It was $90 a month but $57 for my 5Mbps download and 500Kbps upload service. Here is what I got at the market.
29,205 colones or $52.67
This is a 66lb bag. I will last a good while. I would say almost a month along with the 50lb bag I buy at pricesmart of the Kirkland brand. I buy both so I can mix them as there are times when for whatever reason I can’t find one or the other. So mixing them allows me to be out of on or the other without upsetting tummies. I will need a bag of Kirkland soon so hopefully in he next day or two I will go pick one up.
739 Colones or $1.33
It takes about 3 of these to equal the amount I got at Pricesmart. So that puts this at $7.98 and I paid $11.93 at pricesmart. ok I’m convinced I will get my Broccoli from Coop from now on!!!!!
1034 colones or $1.86
The onions I bought at maxipali same amount and actually these are a little bigger cost me 788 colones or $1.42 not worth an extra trip to save a few pennies. So Coop wins again! These actually looked better.
1,800 colones or $3.25
Again looks like the coop wins! This is 10 for $3.25 and they are bigger than the ones I got at Pricesmart where I paid $2.12 for 5.
336 colones or $0.61
We have a very clear winner on this one. Coop! These were bigger then what I got at Pricesmart and I paid $1.03 for 3 smaller ones. I’m starting to see the light how about you?
The next expense on our budget is the vet bill. When we came home out housekeeper showed us a spot where one of our dogs made a mess. The reason she left it for us to see is that it had some blood in it. So we had to run our poor little gizzy to the vet to be checked out. Here is Gizzy!
We still as of yet don’t know what is wrong, but Dr. Solano thinks it is some sort of intestinal something or other. He did put him on medication just in case. He wasn’t acting sick or looking sick. The bill was for the following:
Consult 9000 colones
Complete Hemograma 9500 colones
lopelisan shot 2300 colones
jeringa shot 1700 colones
poop sample 1150 colones
So the total bill was 23650 or $42.65
Most people say that Dr. Solano is one of the more expensive vets in town. That could be true, but he is well worth it! He is one great vet and is a pleasure to deal with and is very knowledgeable! We love, love, love him! That price is nothing compared to what I would have had to pay back it the states!
That pretty much covers I think everything. Here is the budget so far.
As you can see we had lunch at Kay’s again! We do love the place. We were there from 11:30 until about 3:30 today. Ate and had some good conversation with friends. So its a little more this time. I only got 2 salads and my wife got her 2 egg veggie omelets, but we got a lot of Coke Zero and Gin Light. Again the food was good as always! The salads have gotten much better!
Oh and Friday I will have a cost for repair of our weed whacker that I dropped off today. The gardener has not been taken care of it the way he should and he refused to use it until I got it fixed. Which is why he cut our pipe with the machete. As the repair guy told me nothing really wrong with it, but he replace the part that had a piece that broke off and he did some maintenance that needed to be done as its not being handled well. You are suppose to mix oil and gas together and than put it in the machine??? I had no clue and apparently neither did the gardener. So I am taking him with me Friday so they can show him what he needs to do from now on!
Still have 20 days left and I know I am not going to make it for under $2k. Well we will see. Once I am done we will do a recap of the month and see where things could have been eliminated and or saved money and such and see where that lands our final budget. Have a great day!
Oh and drop me a comment if you want to see more pictures and instructions on the food I cook here at the house.
So you know that one thing you can count on in Costa Rica is that your day will never go as you planned, but it will go as it should be. I actually went out to have lunch at one of our favorite restaurants and thank finish my grocery shopping and look for some gym equipment. Well I got most of that accomplished in 5 hours. 🙂
So lets start with lunch shall we. Got to Kay’s at about 12. Had a very nice lunch see pictures below. It was a much better price than we had the other day at Hard Rock Cafe and there was more food! it didn’t cost me 2 additional trips to the Treadmill to work it off either, so it was a win all the way around by eating local and not at a chain. The price of 10,500 colones in addition to what you are about to see 2 coke lights as well.
This was the Mama’s Meatloaf special. It was very tasty. The meatloaf was seasoned well and it was not dry! Always a plus! The string beans were very good and the potato was a nice touch and there was bacon!!!!! The side salad was good as well.
This was 2 veggie omelets that had a good taste, lots of veggies and very filling.
That is the chocolate cake that came with my meatloaf special. It was good as usual, but a little on the small size. I know it was free with the meal, but a little bigger would be nice. It was smaller than what is usually served. I’m sure Kay was looking after my diet for me! 🙂 Over all still a good price for 2 coke zero’s, and unlimited ice tea (came with my special) and a full size piece of chocolate cake my wife ate, that I forgot to show which was about 3x bigger or more than this one. Cost was 10,500 colones. Much better deal than yesterday!
So, after lunch we went off to find the gym equipment store that a couple people told me about. Guess what! Its not there any more! Go figure! It always seems to work that way. When you want something it just all of a sudden goes away. So that wasted time. Ok so lets go to the mall and visit the GNC. I did not include those purchases as it is very special items for our diet. That really shouldn’t count in the budget. We did get everything we wanted to get there. Some protein powder and protein bars and such. Mainly for snacking. You will notice no fruit in my shopping. So finally we are off to the grocery store.
This trip I decided to shop at Pricesmart for the few items. I say a few items as I forgot to make a list and didn’t get everything. So I will be going out later today to get what I forgot yesterday. What I would like to do is pick up the same items in the same quantities at other places each week so you can see the difference. I should have bought less but its Pricesmart so everything is in bulk! Here is what I bought and the cost. This will last me about 2 weeks. I still need to get me some eggplant, onions, fish, and dog food. Hopefully that will happen today. May check out the dreaded Maxi Pali that just opened up yesterday. If its not too crowded.
6500 Colones $11.73
950 colones or $1.71
1350 colones or $2.44
2125 colones or $3.84
5195 Colones or $9.38 I get these to handle my sugar drops. They are the best calories for the carbs.
1175 colones or $2.12
7173 colones or $12.95 this will make about 4 meals for us or more.
5198 colones or $9.38 There are 60 eggs total. Yes I had 3 for breakfast today.
3695 colones or $6.67 I buy this as I use mushroom in everything. i like fresh but a small tray of fresh is almost this price. They are good if you marinate them before you use them. I put them in a bowl in the fridge with garlic since I put them and garlic in almost everything I make.
7295 colones or $13.17 in the states this would be under $10 a bit more, but really what else can you use? Never looked if there is a local brand?
8995 colones or $16.23 Dog treats. This might last a week. Remember I have 10 dogs. 🙂 I’ve tasted them they are pretty good. 🙂 I wouldn’t eat a whole one, but I understand why my dogs love them!
So there are the groceries for the day. Yes you can get them cheaper other places and I will try to do that next time. I like the broccoli at pricesmart as it is precut and always looks good. Sometimes the local Ferria or Grocery stores have dark areas all though out so I don’t like getting it there. Ok now for the budget update.
Doesn’t look good for me. Still have electric, pool service, and community fees to pay. We are eating out again today for lunch. Again local place so cross your fingers.
April 27th was a busy, busy day – picked up a friend from the U.S., Pat at 5 a.m.; finding nothing open for breakfast, we ended up coming home. We really aren’t far from the airport, which is a good thing, because Mark was arriving home at 11:00 that same morning!
We certainly had three happy dogs; they were happy Mark was back home, and they remembered Pat!!! Didn’t do much since Pat had an overnight flight and was exhausted.
But Friday morning we were up and at them! Took her to the Feria first and she was flabbergasted at the size of some the veggies and fruits here. Then we headed for massages…..and we were totally wasted for the day!
Made a trip to Grecia and Sarchi…..I’m still in awe at watching the painters work on the souvenirs, etc.
Up early this morning and thinking about Bingo on June 14th. Everyone takes a prize for the table for those lucky enough to Bingo…..we have yet to Bingo! Decided I would do dish towels, everyone can use them, right? One for every day of the week!
My metal drying rack “died” because of the plastic joins on it so we decided to head to EPA to find another one. When we moved here almost 3 years ago, I bought the drying rack for $50 and nearly choked! Well, today the price was $100!!!! Decided that if I need to dry the clothes, I’ll pay the electricity to use the dryer! Try to use it sparingly, so as long as I can get up early, and use the “outdoor” dryer, I’ll be fine…..I do use the dryer, just not as freely as I did in the U.S.
So I keep hearing that Costa Rica isn’t safe and that you will get robed every time you turn around. So I am here to tell you the truth of it. Yes this does happen! Yes be you in Costa Rica or somewhere else bad people are out there and looking to take what you have and make it theirs. Guess what, it happens in every city in every town in every country around the world. Its not just Costa Rica where it happens. Does it happen here yes. So this blog is some common sense rules to keeping yourself and your things safe while traveling and living in Costa Rica, or anywhere for that matter. It falls on us to be sure our stuff is safe and make it hard for those who wish to take it, to take it. Its sad, but if we do something stupid…
So, I keep seeing people say how expensive Costa Rica is still. What I am going to do is blog each day how much I spend and on what and where I got it. It is my hope to be able to spend less than $2K next month for myself and my wife. Now we are on a special diet and the food is expensive. So I will include it but also show how much we spent without it as well. I eat at 6 am breakfast (diet package), 9 am morning snack (diet package), 12 pm lunch is 2 cups veggies and diet package or 8 oz of protein in place of a diet package, 3 pm afternoon snack (diet package), 6 pm dinner is either 8 oz of protein and 2 cups of veggies or if I had protein for lunch its a diet package instead of the protein, 9 pm evening snack (diet package). This is why I will in the final amount show both with and without the diet food. Hopefully I can get this done under budget. We will see. 🙂
I wake up in the morning at 5 am, but try to stay in bed until 6 am and then take in your beauty and I am thankful for that which you decided to present to me. It doesn’t matter if you have given me bright sun in my eyes that make me cringe as I pull my head out of the covers, or clouds that will bring rain. You bring something beautiful to me each day.
After I wake and you are presenting to me rain that my dogs will go out and play in and track mud all over the house and on the furniture and even me, I do wonder about your wisdom, but I understand that you must water yourself in order to bring that beauty to me each day.
Could you ask some of your creatures like the cane toads, snakes, tarantulas, and scorpions to see shelter in other areas and not in my yard or house that I share with my 10 dogs. They are a handful in and of themselves and well your wonderful and totally needed creatures do make it more of a challenge for me. So if you could direct them in another direction I would greatly appreciate it!
Oh and while I have you can I just say I can’t wait to explore more of you. You really are a super model of countries in the entire world. If I do say so myself I would rank you as the #1 super model!
Thanks for being who you are and all your wonders and challenges you bring to me every day I am thankful! Keep up the good work and we will talk again soon!
Real value? Let’s see… I gave away my Rolex to my oldest grandson, gave away my boat to my adopted son and his family, gave away my hunting gear and rifles to my younger brother and his son to pass on to my younger grandchildren, gave away my suburban to my adopted son and his family… What is real value? A wife who supports you through good and bad times; a dog that only wants the tennis ball; neighbors who appreciate you living next door.
Frank Gould ask this question, “Question for the day for those still awake, what is missing of real value in Costa Rica that you had in Canada, the US or Europe? Really good pastry does not count.”
The quote was taken from a Facebook group and I think it really says it all! Posted by Pat Joffrion! Thanks Pat!
As of late people have been asking me why did I pick Costa Rica. So i have come up with my top 10 reasons I picked Costa Rica out of all the other places in the world to retire to.
1. Weather – Back in the Old country as I like to call it, Maryland we had extreme weathers. In our summer it would be 100+ with 95+ humidity. In the winter we would get below 0 temperatures, snow as deep as I am tall and ice! Oh by the Gods ice! Horrible. Here are two chats that kind of says it all about he weather really. Why wouldn’t someone want to live. Now this is Westminster Maryland where I lived and Atenas Costa Rica where I live now. Other areas and charts will look different. Costa Rica has so many climates within miles of each other. 🙂 So you can pick an choose without going far from where you want to be.
Maryland Weather 2013
Atenas Costa Rica 2013
2.Healthcare – I have only had a couple experiences so far and they have all been good. Check out this blog (Toto we are not in Kansas any more) I did on my experience with Cima hospital and the associated costs. Healthcare here is a fraction of what it is in the state. There are some complaints about the Caja, but I have also heard some really good stories about it. Yes if you have an elective surgery that isn’t an emergency you can wait a very long time to get it taken care of. This video explains a lot about the healthcare system. Getting up in age this was a major factor. Medical Tourism is very big here and it is growing each and every day. People are coming from all over the world to have procedures done.
3. People – They have been the best. I have never heard a bad word. They are polite and pleasant. They have always been helpful to us with anything we need. Now there are bad people just like everywhere, but the people we have had dealings with have been wonderful to us! Check out my post Just say no? I don’t think so! for an example. 🙂
4. Lifestyle – It is very laid back, and slow. I love that! In the States I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I never stopped to smell the roses. I didn’t have time for anything. Here it is very tranquil and easy. Check out this post on Pura Vida for a much better example.
5. Beauty of the land – Everywhere you go there is beauty. Even in the dry season you can find something beautiful to look at. The sunset, the ocean, the mountains, the volcanoes. You name it and it is so pretty here. Oh by the Gods when the rainy season comes and everything comes to life! The green is such a green I have never seen. The flowers just seem to bloom all year long. Rainy season or dry season they just seem to thrive. Its just beautiful here! You have to see it 1st hand to experience it fully. You can check out some of the wonderful beauty by clicking on the Categories tap and select photo and it will bring up all our photo’s of the day that we post every day!
6. Fun things to do – Where else can you go on a zip line, than see a volcano, soak in a hots spring, than visit a butterfly sanctuary all in one day. So much to do and so many places to do it at. Costa Rica has just about everything anyone can want to do. Scuba, rock climbing, nature preserves. We have been here over a year and still have not done all the stuff we really want to do. Granted we are living life, but there is so much it is going to take us a long time to do everything and see everything! You can’t stay for less than 10 days in order to get in enough stuff that you can say you truly sampled what Costa Rica has to offer. Once you have you will just want to keep coming back!
7. Cost of living – You will hear people say, “Oh it is so expensive here. It wasn’t like this 10 years ago!” Well guess what people it wasn’t like this 10 o 20 years ago ANYWHERE!!!!!! Cost of living increases each year. Nothing you can really do about that, but the cost to live here vs in the states is much lower. I’ve done two pieces so far on the cost of living comparisons. I’m working on more and will release them as I get them done. Here are links to the two that I have done so far. Housing and Groceries.
8. Property value – The property values here in Costa Rica are rising. So if you want to buy get it now! Go to our friends at Remax and start looking for a place now. More and more people are moving here and when you have a population explosion housing prices go up! Overall the costs is nothing compared to other places around the world. You can get a wonderful 3 bedroom 3 bathroom home with a pool and a wonderful views for under $150K. You can find houses for rent like this for $500 a month. Where in the US can you find a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom and a pool for $500 a month?
9. The view – Everywhere there is a wonderful view! Ocean view, Mountain views. You can’t turn around without seeing a wonderful view. Yes if you are in the heart of a city the view may not be so wonderful unless you know where to look. All the towns have the most beautiful churches and some wonderful parks. You can’t beat the view here! You just can’t! You can see some of them by going to the categories menu and select photo and it will bring up our Photo of the day posts! I think you will enjoy them a great deal!
10. The energetic feel of it is hard to explain. You step off the plane and it just feels good. You drive around town and you just feel good. You visit the beach and it just feels good. You take a drive to a mountain peek and look over the whole of Costa Rica and is just feels good. I love the energy of the land and I love the feel of everything here. Its like being wrapped up in your mothers arms and being held tight.
So that will do it. These are my top ten reasons I moved to Costa Rica. How abut you share yours with us as well in the comments section so others can see!
I did this trip a long time ago and haven’t done it again and I am glad I was not on this one. I am diabetic and if I didn’t have my meds or my cpap there could have been huge issues! I will be posting another situation with this group in the next couple of days. One that didn’t turn out so well for a few.
We had read about it on the ¿Que Pasa Grecia? website,our local source and resource for all things Gringo. Quick VISA renewal run: take a chartered flight with Blue Wing International to San Juan de Nicaragua, have lunch at the Rio Indio Lodge, and return three hours later to get your coveted 90-day visa stamp and remain legal (or in our case, to keep our U.S. drivers’ licenses valid) in Costa Rica.
That sounded like fun! Everything except the entry and exit fees for both countries was included in the $225.00 per person price. So we decided to take this route for a change.
The charter plane’s capacity was 15 people. We scored the last two seats for the April 12 run. The scheduled departure time from Tobias Bolanos International Airport in Pavas was 7:00 AM, back at Pavas by 12:00 PM. But a couple…
In the wake of last night dinner and a friend making the suggestion to create a post about the top things Restaurants in Costa Rica need to know that they are doing wrong!
INCONSISTENCY!!!!!! Yes please just say no! This if you listen to nothing else I say can save your Restaurant. Everything you serve should come out the same every time. If you salad calls for cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Make sure that is what it has on it every time. How do you combat this? Keep a recipe for every item listed on you menu. Say what you do and do what you say! Keep things measured. If one day your plate has 6oz of beef on it and the next there is only 4oz you will lose a customer or two or more when they talk to their friends or write a blog seen by hundreds of people a day all over the world! For the love of all that is the Food Gods if you have it on your menu be sure you have it at every service! Telling a customer you are out is bad! Yes it happens sometimes, but it shouldn’t always happen. Offer a discount on another option. They will lover you for it!
Service believe it or not can actually make your restaurant a success even if you just have ok food and prices. A great wait staff that knows what they are doing, is attentive, knows when to play with the customer and when to leave them alone is golden! A glass should never go empty unless the customer says so. There should never be a dirty dish on the table. You should not have to ask for salt, pepper, napkins, or for gods sake silverware. You are in the service industry and you need to stand out above the rest! If a customer asks a question about a menu item you server should not have to run and go check for you. They should know the menu in and out.
Price for Quality is again a big point and one of the hardest points for a restaurant to control. You are not going to pull the wool over a customers eyes buy charging more and serving less. I like most, but not all customers are willing to pay a little more if #1 and #2 are there and the quality of the food being served is there as well. In Costa Rica local fruits and veggies are the cheapest anywhere. You should be shopping and looking for those bargains. If you are selling a $12 salad it better be one amazing salad! If your steak dinner is $30 you better have over 8oz of meat and it better be tender and juicy. Don’t be greedy. Higher prices will kill your business. Restaurants thrive on repeat business not the one timers. If your price for the quality is way too high that is all you are going to get is one timers.
Presentation of the food is the cherry on top of the Sunday. If what you are serving looks like you just slopped it on a plate it tells the customer you really don’t care. If you don’t care whey should they care to come back. I’m not talking big and fancy and swirls and stacks that like like you created a master piece, but something presentable. It should be neat and organized on the plate. There should be room and space for people to cut their food without it falling off the plate. This doesn’t mean give them less. See #3 it means get new plates! If it doesn’t look appetizing it may not be appetizing!
Cleanliness is that which binds all these things together and makes you THE RESTAURANT to go to. The tables should be neat and in order and bused. See #2. Utensils, floors, counters, etc should be clean. Here is a big tip! Bathrooms need to be clean, orderly and functional! Nothing will turn off a customer faster and have them not return than a bathroom that is disgusting. If that is how you keep the bathroom, the customer is going to wonder how do you keep your kitchen! I have been to places where there is no running water to wash your hands, no toilet seats, no paper towels.
So in summary Good food, good service, good prices, good presentation, and a clean place will keep your customers coming back time and time again. They will also tell their friends who will tell theirs. People will blog your praises to hundreds of views a day all over the world! So please restaurant owners of Costa Rica heed my words and take care. You never know who is there and what reach they have to either praise you or bury you in the sand!
Want to turn your restaurant around? Email me at email@example.com I would be happy to come in and evaluate (not review) your place and help you to make it the best place in town!
Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well! If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!
I opened my inbox one day to find an email with a peculiar subject line. “Congratulations, you have won a trip to Anamaya Yoga Retreat in sunny Costa Rica”. I promptly deleted it but a nagging feeling prompted me to retrieve that email and read it again to be sure it was, in fact, just another scam. Four months after I reread that email, I boarded a plane for San Jose, Costa Rica. A long drive through the countryside that led to a ferry that took me across the gulf of Nicoya and onto the small Pacific Coast village of Montezuma was the beginning of an unforgettable journey…one that taught me an important lesson in life and in living it to the fullest.
There wasn’t much going on at Anamaya Yoga Retreat on my 4th day in Montezuma, Costa Rica. I developed a routine of waking early, watching the sunset, reading in the hammock, taking a dip in the infinity pool and checking emails all before breakfast was even served. On this day, I decided to break the routine and do something a little different. I didn’t want to waste the day sitting by the pool so I strolled down the hill into the village and spent the day exploring the little streets and surf shops and enjoying the beach. The village had so much energetic ambiance. Smiling, energetic people of all walks of life, embracing the day and one another. I can still feel that ambiance now if I close my eyes and bring myself back there.
It was the hottest morning in Montezuma since I’d arrived and the walk down the hill was torture. I was only half way down the hill when a young man on a motorbike stopped. “Senorita, I take you to bottom of the hill if you like.” He was wearing a nice shirt and khaki shorts which gave him an air of coolness and confidence – like he often picked up strange women who were about to pass out while walking down that hill. I usually don’t take rides from strangers but I didn’t think I was going to make it any further without collapsing. I took him up on his offer and a few minutes later he dropped me off at the beach. With a wave and a friendly “Buenos dias”, he sped off.
I walked a few feet to the beach and plopped myself down in the sand in a shaded area and relaxed for a bit. A storm had passed near Montezuma the previous night and the water was extremely rough. I tried to go for a swim but the waves were too powerful and the undertow too dangerous. The smell of Cerviche and Empanadas in the restaurant a few meters away filled the air. The sounds of palm trees rustling in the gentle breeze and locals and tourists going about their daily business lulled me. A dog chased a stick nearby while some children egged him on. A stray cat sat near a food cart, waiting for a hand-out. The rhythmic sound of the waves coming ashore, like a lullaby, gently rocked me to sleep.
Shouting zapped me out of my trance to see people on the beach pointing to something in the water; some brave, fool-hardy surfers were attempting to surf dangerously rough waters close to some jagged rocks. It looked like the scene might end in tragedy but, fortunately, the surfers made it safely to shore. Welcome to Costa Rica – home of adventure seekers, lovers of life and daredevils!
By late-morning, the heat was really getting to me and I started to feel dehydrated. I was craving a refreshing fruit smoothie but didn’t want to pay the going rate of about 7 dollars for one at a tourist trap. So off I went, up and down those little streets, in search of a reasonably-priced smoothie. At the end of a side street, I noticed an interestingly-decorated, outdoor smoothie bar. The thatched-roof and colorful plants sprouting from the walls caught my eye. It looked like just my kind of place!
A free-spirited and friendly, young man was eager to take on the challenge of making me something that was refreshing but not-too-sweet. It took a long time for him to make it as he carefully thought out each ingredient and made sure it was mixed to perfection by allowing me to taste it at intervals. After some mixing and shaking and adding of various exotic fruit, some of which I never heard of, he placed his finished masterpiece before me. For the price of 3 dollars, I received a delicious, orange-colored smoothie in a massive glass.
I stayed at the bar and took a seat. “So, are you from around here?” I asked him. “Yes, born and raised in Costa Rica, just down the road a little bit.” He obviously loved his life in Montezuma and at one point, he asked if I knew what “Pura Vida” meant. To me “Pura Vida” meant The Pure Life and it was what I had witnessed over and over again while traveling through the country. Natural, untouched, simple and pure. He went on to explain it in more depth for me. “That is how most people interpret it. You see, ‘Pura Vida’ can be a greeting, a state of mind, a way of life. You meet someone walking down the street, you say ‘Pura Vida’. You catch the perfect wave while surfing, you say ‘Pura Vida’. You have a wonderful day, instead of saying goodnight, you say ‘Pura Vida’. You find a great smoothie bar while walking the streets of Montezuma, you say ‘this is Pura Vida’. It can mean anything but always something good. Anytime something good happens, “Pura Vida” is the appropriate thing to say.” Made sense to me. How can you not be living the “Pura Vida” in a country that is considered to be one of the happiest in the world according to the Happy Planet Index?
It was mid-afternoon when I started walking up that steep hill to Anamaya. I made it to the top without collapsing in the ditch. There was still enough daylight left to hike to Montezuma Falls. I had gone there the day before and chickened out of jumping off the falls into the pool below but now I was determined not to leave Costa Rica without taking that plunge.
The path to the falls was steep and rocky. I stopped to take a rest mid-way down the trail and that is when I became fully aware of my surroundings. The growling of nearby howler monkeys, the buzz of millions of tropical insects, the sound of the distant waves crashing onto the beach below, the trees rustling in the gentle breeze. The rainforest sounded so alive. It was like the forest itself was living and breathing.
I made it to the waterfalls and again, paused to take in the beautiful sight before me. Beautiful, cascading water falling into a crystal clear, blue pool beneath a canopy of thick rainforest. Before I could talk myself out of it again, I took the leap into the clear, refreshing water. If there is one thing I absolutely hate, it is missed opportunity. I take every chance that comes my way because, sometimes, you only get one chance to do something. And to think, if I had not listened to that little voice in my head telling me to read that email again, I would have missed out on the time of my life and would never know what it is like to live the Pura Vida.
“Boomerang lesson” is the term I’ve decided to start using for things I tell my kids that I need to pay attention to myself; in other words, listen to yourself speak, Heather, you might learn something. This past Sunday we ran a 5k race with our two oldest children, our 13-year old boy and 10-year old girl. It was a charity run for the Children’s Museum here in San Jose, my husband ran with our son and I ran with our daughter. Our kids are athletic and, despite the fact that if we let them they would immerse themselves for hours in electronics, they really enjoy being active. Since the time they were pretty young our kids could hike for miles and miles, the hubby and I are not parents who would push a 5-year old in a stroller–move forward and push on are lessons our kids learned early…
Clothing recovered at the scene has led officials to say victim likely entered the river from the shore, but witnesses on the bridge still claim Jirón jumped.
Original story continues here:
An unidentified man leapt from the main bridge over the Tárcoles River, near Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, on Tuesday evening at approximately 5:20 p.m. in what is believed to be a suicide, Jim Batres, assistant director for the Costa Rican Red Cross, told The Tico Times.
After falling into the water, the man reportedly was eaten by the river’s famously abundant crocodiles.
Citing the testimonies of unidentified witnesses at the scene, Batres said the man had been causing a disturbance on the bridge earlier in the evening and was removed by police. He then went to a bar before returning to the bridge and leaping into the river.
Batres said the man’s identity could not immediately be confirmed, and members of a Red Cross search team were unable to recover the body as of 7:50 p.m. Tuesday night.
A conflicting report in the daily La Nación said the victim did not jump from the bridge, but tried to swim in the river from the shore when he was attacked by a crocodile and disappeared. The report said a friend identified him as a Nicaraguan named Omar, but gave no last name.
Situated on the highway between San José and the popular beach town Jacó, the bridge over the Tárcoles River has become a popular pit stop for tourists looking to catch a glimpse of the river’s many American crocodiles. Recently, photographers and tour guides have grown more adventurous, filling up YouTube with videos of Tárcoles croc feedings and near misses.
This very patient caiman leaves a bee and a butterfly sucking her tears for a quarter of an hour to Costa RicaAccording to researchers, the sodium content in tears carnivores attracts insects who need for their development.
This is an original trio Carlos de la Rosa and his team had the chance to observe on the banks of the Rio Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica: an alligator lounging on a tree trunk while a butterfly ( Dryas iulia) and a bee (Centris sp.) drink her tears.
“This is one of those moments of natural history that one day we hope to observe closely,” said Carlos de la Rose, director of La Selva Biological Station, specializing in the study of tropical areas. The biologist, students and photographers navigate the Puerto Viejo River in northeastern Costa Rica, when they see the caiman and two insects.
So this is Part II and in this one I will talk about the cost of Groceries and what they cost. So sit back have a cup of your favorite coffee and I really hope you are drinking Costa Rica Coffee and not Nesacafe instant! and enjoy today’s offering.
Like most things in Costa Rica it is really all about location and what you are willing to accept and not accept. As an example I was walking though Pricesmart and there were a couple items I was looking for. One was way to pricey even for me and the other item was way to pricey even for me, but I bought it anyway. So why did I buy one, but not the other. I know the 1st one I could get somewhere else cheaper and I would be going there as my next stop and the other I know I wouldn’t be able to get it anywhere else. Now I could have just done without it as it wasn’t a necessity to have, but I bought it any way. Its all a matter of your outlook and your pocketbook. There are so many options for your grocery needs in Costa Rica. Sometimes I think more than even in the states. I have complied below a list of a couple of those options with prices at each for the same or very similar items. You will notice that I only gave prices for 1 place for meats. I find all the other places to be inferior quality meat and thus would not suggest buying it at any of the places listed on the chart. As you can see his prices are so much better and so is the quality!
So lets 1st talk about Pricesmart. There are a couple of them here in Costa Rica. They are the equivalent to Costco in the states. They do have kirkland brands and a majority of your US brands you are looking for. Some items are cheaper while others are not. The difference between the bulk stores in the US and the ones in Costa Rica, is that bulk doesn’t mean cheaper here. You can go to a local market and buy 6 let say Paper towel rolls and it be the same price as a pack of 6 in Pricesmart. The meat products here are in larger quantities and they just don’t look good to me. Many people get their meat here, but there are better options!
Auto Mercado is the equivalent to Giant in the states. Its design and layout is very much the same. Again many US, Canadan, and German products can be found here. Their chicken and seafood is very good. The meats are hit and miss. They are way more expensive than Uncle Earls. You can find North American style cuts here as well as the local stuff.
Coope is the local Co-operative market here in Atenas. Now the prices I gave for them in the chart is the regular everyday prices. All items have two price stickers on the shelves. One is higher than the other. On Wednesdays the Coop day you get the lower price. Some items it is worth going in when they are busy for while others not so much. You do have options for lower prices if you shop on a Wednesday.
Feria is the local farmers market. Prices are cheaper here. Mostly fruits and veggies. There are many other things you can get at the Feria and many people buy their meat here. Me personally can’t bring myself to do it. Just don’t like the looks of things and again beef you can forget about it!!!!!!! Don’t even bother. If you missed it here is the video of my trip to the Feria with Eunice from Remax.
Uncle Earls is a butcher. A very good one at that. I will only buy my North American style beef products from him. See my blog post where I talk about the meat here in Costa Rica. Moo…Mooo…Slaughter…Grill…Eat!
Last but not least is Walmart! Yes they have Walmart here in Costa Rica. All of them have groceries. They are very much like the Walmarts in the states. I really can’t see a difference. Not even in the prices really. So, it should go without saying but I am going to say it they have US brands here. Walk into a Costa Rica Walmart and you feel like you have just went back to the states.
Now in addition to these you also have the Mega Super’s, The Pali’s, the, Mas x Menos, and the list could go on. There is a war raging right now for your $’s. So I would suggest taking a list and checking out the prices at all of these places and decide which is cheaper and most convenient for you to shop at. Once you know plan out your day and set a driving route that maximizes your drive and you get the best products at the best prices. It will take a little work on your part, but your pocketbook will thank you!
So below is a price comparison chart for groceries at each one of these places. I used Giant from the US to show US prices. I have used a currency converter to get the most recent exchange rates. I converted everything from KG to Lbs, and gallons to liters or liters to gallons. I tried to match the quantities at each location as best I could. This is pretty much comparing apples to apples. If I couldn’t find a US brand at one of the Costa Rica stores I used a local brand that was comparable to it. So take a look at the chart and than lets talk! 🙂
Ok so as you can see Costa Rica is the winner! Most of the items I priced were cheaper here in Costa Rica than in the states. Yes some were more expensive, but over all grocery shopping is less expensive here than in the US. Now this next chart really bring it home.
Now with this chart I made sure that each store I added up the same items. If the items didn’t exist in the big chart at the top in all the stores than I did not include the item in the total. So this is apples to apples again. What you should notice is that for your produce it is cheaper to go to the Feria. As it should be! Again the US loses! Your other items its kind of a close run. The US did win when it comes to the other non food items, but not by much if you look at Pricesmart. Again because it is mainly a US brand store its pretty close to Giant prices in the US. It would pale in comparison to a Costco in the states. This isn’t a bad thing, because as you can see the other items are more expensive at the other stores.
Here are a few other things you need to know about shopping in Costa Rica. Let me stress this one point by telling you a little story. I promise to make it short. 🙂 Well as short as I can tell a story. Oh god its already gone on too long and I haven’t even begun the story yet.
So when we 1st got to Costa Rica and got our pricesmart card we were so happy. We shopped there all the time. There was this one item that my wife loved. It was Pineapple jelly! We bought it every time we went shopping. All of a sudden it isn’t there? Strange? Did they move it? Nope. Ok they are just out. So we go back the next time. Yes its there. We buy a jar. Next time nope not there. Next time nope not there. It has been over 8 months and the Pineapple jelly has not returned to pricesmart. I thought to myself, self ok they discontinued it or can’t get it any more. I started to see this trend in Auto Mercado and Walmart and Coope. Ok there is something to this, so I asked around. What I was told by a couple of people was this. If an items begins to sell like hot cakes, they will discontinue the item. It is more work to keep restocking the shelves so they just don’t carry it any more. This falls under the Pura Vida category. So the moral of this short yet now so short story is do not fall in love with any item. One day it is here and the next it is gone. Make sure you have options and alternatives.
Buy it while you can and every time you can. You never know when it will go away or for how long it will go away. So stock up. I have 7 jars of minced garlic in my pantry right now as it went away for 2 months once.
Price shop. This is common anywhere. Check your prices. Check them closely. Sometimes the local brands are cheaper and just as good, but sometimes they are not. I have been shocked that an imported items was way cheaper than a local product. Don’t just grab the item you know. It will raise the cost of your grocery shopping!
Sometimes once you factor in costs driving around to other places it doesn’t save you money to save on certain items by going to more than one place to shop.
We go shopping once a week. We make a day of it. We go to our dietitian in the morning. We have lunch some where. I than hit the Pricesmart (right near where we usually have lunch) than we hit the Auto Mercado, on the way home, and than Coope if we need. I very seldom every shop at Walmart. Kind of out of the way and their prices are too much like those in the states. So we leave in the am and are home about 4pm. Its an all day event. Now I have to admit that I do not shop at the Feria much. As I get my veggies at either Pricesmart or Auto Mercado or Coope. Its a matter of convenience I am there and the prices are just a little more expensive and the Feria isn’t on the day I do my shopping. I could change the day, but again its a matter of preference really. I have developed my route that I’m only going maybe 10 min. out of my way driving time to visit all 3 places in one day.
There really isn’t anything you can’t either find here in Costa Rica or substitute. Its a matter of changing your mind set. You are in a new land and new ways of doing things and new foods in some cases. Shop local and shop fresh! Change the way you eat and shop and you can spend very little on groceries.
Part III will be on transportation costs. Own a car or take public transportation?
So let me go ahead and wrap this one up. I give Costa Rica 4 out of 5 for Groceries! The only reason I didn’t give it a 5 out of 5 is the now you see it now you don’t aspect of what may or may not be available.
So while I was out gathering up prices for my Part 2 I took some video. We went to he Friday Faria in the center of Atenas. It is always nice to get out and support the local community. You can shop, eat, meet people and just have a nice time. So I hope you will enjoy this offering until my Part II is completed. I want to be sure to bring you all the correct pricing and information that I can. So grab your favorite drink, be it coffee, tea, or something with a little kick, watch and enjoy the video is about 12 minutes long, but worth the watch. I want to thank Eunice for coming a long and helping me with this video. She was a dream and a pleasure and showed me many things! Enjoy!
Costa Rica has a very particular banking culture. A couple of weeks ago, an expat related a story to me about her relative in the U.S. who was dissatisfied with his bank there. He had to wait for service, felt that he was being ignored, so he closed his accounts and withdrew from the bank. In Costa Rica, if you expect immediate service you will be disappointed.
The financial system in C. R. is small, just $ 40.639 US Million $ (Jan. 2014), however it is very stable. You can get all kinds of financial services and first order banking, including excellent access to internet banking, however, you must arm yourself with a little patience and prepare to wait an average of fifteen minutes in line at the bank. Lines can be long and service slow, especially in the national banks.
How secure is to invest in C.R.
The vast majority of financial institutions in C.R. are regulated by the government through the Sugef (Superintendent of Financial Institutions ) which issues a monthly rating on major financial indicators for each bank. It’s a pretty demanding state agency whose guidelines are obligatory for all institutions within the financial system. There are also several financial institutions which are not regulated, due to their small size.
In terms of financial and bank auditing, some banks are turning to local audit companies. Others, particularly some of the larger banks, use international auditing firms especially highly recognized worldwide such as Deloitte, Peat Marwick and Price Waterhouse. Coopenae is audited by Peat Marwick. These three audit firms are supported by Sugef to audit local financial institutions in C.R.
The C.R. financial system
The financial system consists of 51 financial institutions regulated by Sugef (Jan. 2014). Of these, there are 4 state banks, 9 private banks, 2 mutuals, some financial companies, and several credit unions. The majority of the 51 are small credit unions. In the past, there were more private banks, however in the last two decades, some have merged, leaving us with the present 9. The largest by assets is BAC San José and the third is Banco Davivienda, both from Colombian capital. The second is Scotiabank and the fourth, my bank, Coopenae, a credit union, the largest and strongest in C.R., which is internationally audited, with an outstanding financial performance and 100 % “Tica”.
Coopenae has been in the local financial market for more than 47 years and currently is the 4th largest credit union in Latin America. Our credit default rate for loans paid late (more than 90 days) has been under 1% for the last decade, it is currently well rated by Fitch Ratings and, as of March 2014, has more than 90.000 members, including expats investors from all over the country.
How to access C.R. banking system
Keep in mind that to perform banking transactions in C.R. (opening accounts, investments, internet banking, etc.) a “cédula” or residency card is required. The residency card is a permit to reside in the country (not as a tourist) but permanently while the document is in force. If you do not have yours, I suggest you start the process to get legal residency so you can open a bank account in Costa Rica.
The foregoing information has been provided by Mr. Asdrúbal Zamora of COOPENAE. He is in charge of investments and routinely helps foreign investors in Costa Rica with earning sound profits from their investment money. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Current CD Rates at COOPENAE:
A question was asked that I felt would be good to add tot his posting.
If you have a corporation could you open an account with that cedula.
As we are a credit union we cannot deal with corporations, only nonprofit corporations. Also, we don´t manage checking accounts, only savings accounts.
So it seems an innocent post on Facebook has erupted like Mount Saint Hellens! Here is the post I made in the Facebook group.
“So anyone know if the under new management Bar Rill is actually doing a salad bar like I have been told and have yet to see?”
Who knew what this one little comment would grow into. It was fierce and it was bloody. People blocked people and just was not pretty. Now the issue is Bar Rill a nice enough restaurant has been taken over by new management. One day while sitting at Greggos a bar we go to for dinner once a week, a friend says, “So hey you know Bar Rill is got a new owner and he is going to be doing a salad bar?” He knows we are on a diet and need to eat lots of veggies so this would be great! I love a good salad bar and have not found on here in Costa Rica that is good. Pizza hut had one but it was small, you got one trip and it cost like $10! STOP THE INSANITY! I digress. So I say cool when do they start? He tells me on Wednesday. So my wife and another couple go to check this out. Well the one couple that joined us the wife is a vegetarian, so she too is excited about his Salad bar. The best part is all you can eat for $6. Amazing. I’m so juiced and so ready for this. We get there and we notice no salad bar. OK lets check it out we are here and see what its all about. So we talk to the owner and he wasn’t ready. Tells us they will have it next week. It just so happens we go on a cruise next week so hopefully it will be up and running and ready to go by the time we come back from our cruise.
We get in on a Saturday from a long flight and airline food. So we are hungry and ready for a great salad bar in Atenas. We go to the restaurant and Nope no salad bar! Really? I had my heart set on a nice, personally made, full of goodness salad bar. So we turn around and head out. The owner comes up and asks us to come back in. I explain we were looking for the salad bar and would be back when it is up and running. His reason was the cook was out sick today. Not sure that is a good reason. Salad bars are the easiest thing to do when you cook is out sick. I still today have not heard of a salad bar being set up. Which is why I asked the question I did in the Facebook group. So now you are all caught up on what prompted me to start the Great Costa Rica Salad War of 2014.
Now the war itself was pretty funny really, but people take their food and salad very seriously. Another shop owner who does a wonderful Sunday Brunch with all kinds of food on it says,”as a matter or fact I may try to add to Sunday brunch” and this is when it started to get stupid and crazy. Here are some of the comments that were said after this message.
“There are a lot of bad food choices at salad bars”
Wow really bad choices? Like what carrots? Broccoli? Nice green veggies? Yes I will agree dressing does make your health salad unhealthy. Use a nice vinaigrette or just some oil and vinegar. Or just a splash of lemon or and or lime juice. bad food choices? Really?
“A “salad bar” in the tropics ….??? Poor restaurant owners … they will lose colones big time.”
Really? With the proper equipment and the proper management of the items its not that hard! A nice cooling table with lids and you are going to be just fine. Which is the equipment that Bar Rill happens to have! Becasue no tropical place has a salad bar!
So at this point the owner who does the Sunday brunch, keep in mind the above are just highlight of what was said. There were many, many more messages. These were just the ones I found to be the most outrageous. So back to it. He asks if there is an interest in adding (not replacing), but adding a salad items to the bar. Here is what happen and you will just chuckle yourself to death on this one.
“I vote no. It’s not feasible from a restaurant owner’s view I think. And, when I go for Sunday brunch, the last thing I would want to order is salad because I am there for eggs, bacon, hash browns, a bit of fruit, toast. I want breakfast. How much can one person eat at one meal? Salad is for later”
Ok so has this person ever been to Brunch in their life? Really? “Br(reakfast((l)unch) combined. What do a lot of people have for lunch? Oh by the Gods Salad! Say it isn’t so! Who is anyone to say what is feasible or not for a restaurant owner. That is really up to them not us to say. He is only adding it to the bar. Not replacing items or making it some big production. They already do a huge veggie omelet when they have the omelet station so no big deal. This is the part I really love when we started talking about items. This was said.
“this is Costa Rica, I want to eat Costa Rican foods”
Ok so no items that anyone listed on the “Brunch” Bar are Costa Rican Fair! Not even the eggs Benedict when they have it! You want to see some Costa Rica items for Breakfast here are some you will love and I think should be added to a “Brunch” Bar. 🙂
Tico French Toast Stuffed with all kinds of fruit!
Tico Eggs Benedict
Now that is come Costa Rican “Brunch items” Love love love to have me some of these! I digress again. Food gets me so distracted.
So this thread goes on for day and over 120 comments being posted. It did finally end and there was much blood shed. Here is the real reason I am writing this blog. A salad is a special thing. You can’t just slap some lettuce down on a plate and put a little cucumbers and some tomatoes on it and call it a salad. This is an example of what is not a salad!!!!
This is what is served at most Restaurants here in Costa Rica as both a side salad (maybe you can get away with it as a side salad), but not as your dinner salad and defiantly not as your entree salad!
You should have some good items in to make it a salad. If it is your starter than just a nice verde (green) salad is good. You can put just about any veggie in it and the more the merrier!!!!!! I’m not talking quantity. I’m speaking of variety is what makes a good salad. 1, 2 or 3 items does not a salad make. An ok salad have 4 or 5 different items and a great salad will have 10 or more!!!!!! Again not in large quantities of each item, but enough that you see you have a good variety. Now if it is your main entree you add some protein to it. Again one or two ounces does not an entree make. You should add a min of 4 to 8 oz of protein to any salad served as an entree. Here are some examples of ok and good salads I have had in Costa Rica.
Now there is one place in Costa Rica that I have found a great salad. It isn’t your most traditional of salads as it isn’t a cold salad. It is a grilled veggies salad. It is called Ensalada Mixta de Vegetales al Carbón and has the following in it:
Combinación de berenjena, cebolla, chile dulce, zuchini, hongos frescos cocidos a la plancha con aceite de oliva, sal, especies y aderezo light sobre una cama de lechuga.
Now in Gringo speak those items are:
Combination of eggplant, onion, sweet pepper, zucchini, mushrooms cooked grilled with olive oil, salt, spices and light seasoning on a bed of lettuce.
Now even though it doesn’t have 10 or more items it has a very nice flavor and I get it every time we go! Where do I get this you might ask? I get it here!
So that is my story of the Great Costa Rican Salad war of 2014. I hope you have enjoyed it and you have learned a little something about salads today. I just want to say to all my wonder Costa Rican Restaurants out there please I am begging you please make a good salad!
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This will be post #100 on my blog! Wow I had no clue I have made this many posts! Thanks to everyone who has read what I have to say! You guys are great!
So I have had some discussion as of late about the cost of living in Costa Rica. Is it expensive? Well here is the truth from one expat to another. We have lived here for over a year now and I can tell you that yes it can be expensive, but not as expensive as when we were living in the US. It can also be cheap if you know where to shop, how to shop and if you are willing to give up those things you are use to from your old life in whatever country you come from. So lets break this down into a number of different areas and talk about each one in detail. I will take different aspects of living in Costa Rica and break them down into individual posts. Today we are going to talk about:
There are a number of factors that you have to consider when you are talking about housing costs. What size home, what area, what amenities the house has, Gardener? will you have a housekeeper?, will it be in a gated community with fees? There is really no simple answer to any of these questions as far as costs go, but I will try to give you the range so you can figure out where in that range you want to be.
Electricity is expensive here. so I.C.E. is the electrical power supplier in Costa Rica. The current rates at the time of writing this blog are about .37 per kwh. Now this equates to anywhere from $40 a month to $2K a month in electric bill. The size of your house, the number of toys you have, like computers, laptops, iPad, TV’s, etc. Do you have a pool? Do you need A/C. Yep there you go the bill just went up even more. When you add a pool, a big screen TV, a couple of electronics and A/C you are talking big bucks. Do you have an electric water heater? Electric water heater is going to jump the costs as well. An on demand systems will be a little lower, but not much. Going propane for water heater I am told is much less expensive. Do you have a hot tub? Now that will jump your bill. I found that out the hard way. I did convert it to solar heating system with a propane heater to keep it hot at night when in use. That took off about $150 from my monthly bill. If you have a clothes dryer that will jump you bill. These are all things we don’t think about in the states until we come here. Oh and if you live way up high in the hills where it is cold a heating system will also increase your bill. If you are up there you won’t really need A/C, so its kind of washes out cost wise. OK, lets just say you have a 2500 sqft house with one large screen tv, a couple computers, couple laptops, a pool, washer and dryer, electric water heater and A/C and or heat and that is going to run you about $1200 a month in electric. It could be more I have heard stories of $2K a month in the beach areas. Now take that same house with a number of TV’s and laptop and such, and a pool but no A/C, an on demand hot water system and it will cost you about $400 a month. A smaller house with 1 regular size tv and one computer and one laptop, no pool and no A/C, no dryer will run you about $50 a month. Things you need to think about when doing a budget. Estimate high for your bill, be pleased when it doesn’t reach that, and adjust your lifestyle when it goes above! Unplug anything that is not in use. Items like TV’s, computers and almost anything that plugs in draws energy as long as it is connected.
Water believe it or not, is not that expensive compared to the states. When I lived in the states I had a well on my property so pretty cheap, but before that I used public water and our quarterly bill for 2 adults and 2 teens was about $100. Here my bill is about $35 on average for 2 adults. I do have a pool and sometimes it is higher and gets even higher when you have to fill your pool because of a earth quake splitting the pipes and the pool going empty. That is another blog. Or your Gardener leave the hose run in a part of the yard you don’t go visit and its on for almost a day. Those are very unusual so water cost isn’t much of an issue for a budget. It is however an issue in some areas as you will have water outages a lot in dry season which is from Dec. to about May. My current house is on a well for the community so we have very few outages. The only time it goes out is when someone makes a mistake. One time they were getting service to a new lot that was being built on and they cut the line and had to shut it down. Another time someone left the valves open on the tanks and drained them so they had to cut it off to let the tanks fill. A friend went without water in one of the areas of Atenas (public water system Aya) for over a week. Others tell stories of it being out form like 8pm until 8am every day. So even though it isn’t expensive it could be a challenge. I have been lucky and I know it and count my blessings!
Renting is an option for a lot of people here. They like to move around to the different areas of Costa Rica and or just don’t want to be tied down. Again size plays a factor in what you will pay. You can find some very nice homes for as little as $300 a month (very small tico style home) to something with a little more room for $1800 a month. All depends on what you are looking for. Many of the rentals will include utilities such as cable and TV. Most won’t do the electric, but some do.
Buying a house in Costa Rica can be tricky and exciting and expensive or cheap. You have to 1st figure out what can you afford and go from there. Now I will leave most of this to the experts at Remax who will be doing an article for me. I will tell you this much don’t buy unless you know 100% that Costa Rica is the place for you and only go with someone you know or someone who you know, knows and trusts to take you though this process. Now if you are buying there is always going to be more costs associated with it vs renting. As an example my house has a lot of wood and every so many years it will all have to be sanded and re-varnished. This can be expensive. Keep maintenance and upkeep in mind when you are doing your budget and looking at the house you will buy. Don’t let the WoW factor of your house overwhelm you and cloud your judgement on what you can afford or the maintenance that will be involved in the upkeep of that house. Costa Rica does have unique maintenance issues not found in other countries.
TV and Internet I am not going to talk a lot on this point just going to refer you to my blog post about this. https://bestofcostarica.org/2014/03/20/buffering-buffering-buffering/ In that post I talk mainly about internet and how you can get it. I also talk about you can get all your TV via the internet and have no need for real cable television. In my opinion this is a better option. Now for TV you can go with any number of services if you want real cable. The cost will vary greatly on the service plan and the service provider you use. I pay $30 for Cabletica as it is only a basic service, see my blog why I even have it, as I do not use it. Claro is running about $28 for basic cable and if you go with the movie channels and the HD service it is going to cost you about $55 a month. I know my cable TV with all the movie channels (now we had a lot more channels in the states mind you) and HD ran about $175 a month on Comcast. Comcast basic TV is running about $55 a month now.You will need un-block.us to use all the services out there.
Pool service isn’t too bad here. If you have a pool and don’t want to service it yourself you can get it for fairly cheap. Well here in Atenas anyway. I’m not sure about other areas what the costs is, I pay about $64 a month for the service and than chemicals add about another $20. This is the cost for service once a week. They come clean, treat, fill the pool and our hot tub which is attached to the pool. Now in the states I was paying $80 a service plus chemicals. So for service alone I was paying $320 a month plus chemicals. Now some people here allow their gardener to service their pool. Not a good idea people, but I guess if you have him trained by someone who knows what they are doing it can be OK, but most gardeners have no clue about pool maintenance.
Housekeepers are everywhere and just about everyone has one and it doesn’t matter if your house is 1k sqft or 10K sqft. Some come once a week, while others come every day or like me I have our here on Mondays and Friday.I use this schedule to help with clean up before the weekend parties and than clean up after the weekend parties! 🙂 So your cost will vary on the number of times you want your house cleaned. They do everything from the floors, to the windows and even laundry. Pretty much almost anything you need them to do while they are here, and they are willing to do it with no issues or additional costs unless you are asking them to stay later or come another day. So cost is about $3 an hour. Yes you heard me right $3 an hour. There are other costs involved as well such as Caja (gringo speak Health insurance) Costarricense del Seguro Social (gringo speak Social Security) and than there is vacation pay which I believe is 15 days a year and holidays. There is also something they call 13 month pay in December. This is where you pay them 1 months salary before the end of the year. So, its like a year end bonus that is required. There is also workers comp insurance you can get that runs between $80 and $150 a year. So once you factor in all those costs and if you want to do it right you are talking under $15 a hour. It can be a lot under in most cases, but that’s a pretty good number to do it right. You compare that to costs in the states of $45 to $90 an hour or higher and you now know why almost everyone has one. If we are being honest here most use housekeepers who are not legal and get them for $3 an hour flat or less. That is just how it works here for some people. I don’t suggest doing this, but people do all the time doesn’t make it right, but I pass no judgments. My advise is to use a service or share with a friend who knows what they are doing as all the rules get confusing and its not like it is in the states. If you fire them it can be a huge mess of bills for you and the cost can be high. Some people will put the money away each year into a CD just in case they have to fire them. If they quit not an issue. While others pay it at the end of the year for that years service. So, its like firing them and rehiring them on a yearly basis.
Gardeners are even cheaper than a housekeeper. You can get them for about $2 an hour or less again depending on if the are legal or not. All the same things apply for the Gardeners as the housekeepers. So the cost will be more once you add all the additional costs, but still going to be way cheaper than if you had one in he states. Especially in some areas. I know I pay almost $100 an hour to have a company come in and take care of my property while I am not there.
Community Fees vary from community to community. Some have no fees while others have many fees. Depending on the area and the house you are looking to rent or buy check into the fees! Not everyone or every agent will tell you about these fees upfront. They are not trying to deceive they just don’t think about it. So be sure to ask! Our house is in a gated community, but the only fees we have is for the security guard at the gate which we pay about $40 a month for. In addition to that we have a trash pickup fee of $8 a month. Now we do not have this and other do pay what would be the equivalent of HOA fees in addition to all of those. It can range from $10 am month to $100 a month. It all depends on what is offered by the community or what the builds want to make off of you each month. Again you must ask as they won’t always tell you. Is there a pool, playground, shared community center? All these things raise the price of the fees. There is one community here that offers nothing outside of your house and the lot and they still charge a fee for nothing. I guess it is for the privilege of living on the developers land. Community fees are really no different here than in the states and I think these fees are pretty much the same and or lower. I owned a house once and the HOA fees were $125 a month and they really didn’t have anything to offer. Now if you are buying you are fully responsible for those costs. If you are renting you may want to verify all those costs are included in your monthly rental fee.
Homeowner or Renters Insurance like in most countries is a necessary evil. Doesn’t matter where in the world you live you have to have a number of types of insurance. I pay about $1200 a year for my homeowners policy and other have stated as low as $250 a year. I think I may be getting ripped off. My research for this article has me thinking. Again this varies with the house value and the options you select on your policy. This will be covered in full detail when we get our article from the owners of the Remax here in Atenas. Now I will say I was talking to some people in a Facebook group to get what they pay and the responses were “Whats insurance” So I assume not everyone has this. Some said too expensive for what was covered and etc. So same complaint we have anywhere in the world when talking about insurance. In another blog I will detail my 2 claims that I have had so far this past year. Not sure it is worth having really, as I have not been happy with what I have to do and how long it takes to finish a claim out. I’m stilling fighting with them over an issue that happened back in Oct. of 2012.
So that just about covers it for housing costs. We will go into more detail on some of these points when Remax does a write up. So look for that one in the coming weeks. This concludes part I. Just remember that living in Costa Rica sometimes requires you to make adjustments to get the most out of your life here. Some are easy and others are very hard, but Costa Rica is worth the changes you may have to make to your life. Not sure yet how many parts this piece will have, but we will see. My next post in this series is going to be on transportation costs and groceries. I guess it really all depends on how much I have to say, and as we all know by now I always have a lot to say! So to wrap this up Electric is high, water comparable to the US if not cheaper (but can be a challenge), renting can be cheaper than buying, and buying is way cheaper when you look at what you get here verse what you can get in the states for the same price. TV and Internet cheaper but slower, but more than what you will need to do the things you will do. Pool service, housekeepers, Gardeners are most defiantly cheaper here by a lot! Insurance is pretty much the same as it is in the states. It can be cheaper here, but claims are just as difficult to collect. .So over all housing costs in Costa Rica as compared to the US it is much cheaper!!!!! What do you think? Am I right or do you have a different opinion? Let me know what you pay for this by leaving a comment on this post. If you do state the area you live in and as much info as possible along with what the costs are. This will help people be better informed and get real life data. Not just variables and ranges. So I give Housing Costs in Costa Rica 3 out of 5. Only because of the Electric costs and the water outages some people will have to face. Otherwise it would be 4 if you move to an area that doesn’t have water issues and you don’t need A/C or heat.
Doesn’t this pizza look so good! Its round and gooey and cheezy and has a little tickness to the crust. This is a picture of a pizza I made myself. I use to own my own Pizza and Sub shop. We had the best pizza in the area. Its not just me saying it I was told that by customers and even other pizza shop owners. This one I made here in Costa Rica. The cheezy goodness and the sauce and the pepperoni was just a blend and a wonderful explosion of flavor in your mouth. The crust was so nice and hand tossed with just the right thickness and herbs added in. The smell while it was cooking was amazing.
So is your mouth watering and do you wan to put a piece of pie in your pie hole yet? I’m know you do. You want to run out right now and go get a pizza like this one. Well guess what, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO FIND ONE LIKE THIS IN COSTA RICA!!!!! Nope you won’t. What you will find is what my wife and I like to call cheese and cracker type of pizza. No don’t get me wrong in the right mood I can eat a true Italian style crust pizza, but that is a very rare mood and it better have some good cheese, sauce and toppings.
Now there are 3 important things that make a really good pizza. The 1st is the crust. It has to be light an airy and have a little substance to it. It can’t be too dense or too airy. Doesn’t have to be 3 inches thick either. Again some people like that and that is ok and I prefer a thicker crust over a thin one. The crust should have some flavor to it and not be just dough. There should be some herbs and spices mixed in with the crust. It should be hand tossed and slapped out like a pizza was meant to be. This helps with the rising of the crust in the oven. It allows some air to get into the dough. When you cook the crust you don’t want to over cook it. A nice brown crunchy bottom and sides with a soft, but not raw texture inside.
The 2nd items is the sauce. It has to be a very good red sauce! Don’t give me none of that white pizza crap or the oil and garlic sauce crust! Yea ok it can taste good, but that isn’t a really good pizza sauce for a really good pizza. You can’t put too much on the pizza. if you over sauce it the dough won’t cook properly and if you under sauce it what is the damn point of putting sauce on it? You have to put a light coating of sauce on the pizza but not too light. Nice even coating. You want to think about a night breeze that is just cold enough for you to put on a light covering and not a huge winter jacket!!!!!!!!!! If you put the sauce on too heavy you crust won’t cook and can even be raw. Raw dough is not good at all! The sauce is where most of your flavor comes from.
The 3rd item is the cheese. You have to have good cheese. It should be a mozzarella and provolone blend. Don’t go buying that crap in the market ok. Go to a good store and buy some good cheese. Not shredded you want the kind that are in the shape of a ball. The shredded sits on top of the pizza like bamboo shoots a crossed its surface. It just doesn’t give it a good texture. The ball shape cheese melts very nicely and evenly over the entire pizza.
Now toppings are unimportant to a good pizza. They are just toppings people. Those 3 things are really all you need to make a good pizza. Now toppings do lend to make up for a fault in one of the three things above, but if any two of the three are bad you might as well be french kissing your dog! Its going to be about the same experience. People they are called toppings for a reason! They go on top of the pizza! Not burried on the bottom of the cheese or even worse the sauce!!! So put those things where they belong!!!!
Here are some example of what you will find and get here in costa Rica.
As you can tell from these pictures cheese and cracker. That is all you are going to get. Not that much cheese either and if you look the one even has the TOPPINGS under the cheese. Not good people not good! Now for what it is worth if you want a pizza these will do in a pinch. There is only one place I recomend here in Atenas for this type of pizza an that is Alida’s.
They have a good pizza, but it is a little expensive, but when you want a good pizza mind you cheese and cracker, Oh I mean traditional Italian pizza this is the best place to go. My wife likes to get their 4 cheese pizza as it has a little kick to it. Me I don’t get it at all really and only because their other food is so good! So she gets pizza and I get good Italian food! Works out well.
I give Alida’s pizza 3 out of 5 as their sauce is pretty good! They are a bit pricey I think their pizza is like $18. It is worth it if you are craving a pizza and are ok with the cracker crust. I gave them 3 because of their other food options are so good! If I had reviewed them as a hole they would have gotten 4 out of 5. Oh wait I just did! 🙂
Now mind you that isn’t the most expensive pizza either. There are some places that charge upwards of $25 for a 14 inch cheese pizza. Insanity!!!! I won’t go to those places to have pizza.
Now a really good pizza in Atenas is at Pizza Rica! Their crust is thicker than any crust I have seen in Atenas. Now you have your pizza hut and your papa johns pizza here, but I really don’t like those chains. Their crust is the traditional hand toss with a good thickness to it, but I just don’t like their sauce or their cheeses and their crust while thick has no flavor other than flour. Pizza Rica on the other hand has a very good pizza. No doubt and it is reasonable priced. Her is a link to them.
Better yet don’t go in!!!!! So this video is getting a lot of attention today. This video was shot between Playa Avellanas and Playa Langosta in Northern Costa Rica. It was upload by Mario Chacon and it was taken by his friend. I’ve been told this is very common. You are not going to see me swimming in those waters, but I also understand that it is uncommon for swimmers to be in this area. So we are OK, I guess? Lets just hope there is no News at 11 about someone being bitten by a shark in this area. The beaches are very populated right now because of the holiday! Be safe! You can turn on captions for this video and change them to English if you do not speak Spanish. Pura Vida!
Ok so a couple things I have learned to help me adjust to Costa Rica and hopefully they will help you also.
1. Pura vida is taken very seriously by the locals and is really a way of life and a philosophy. Most expats don’t see it this way. They see it as a way to show up when you want, do what you want and just be lazy. This is not true. It is how they express the slow living. Yes it can be frustrating at times, but it is their way and we are not and should not try to change it. Even if you have residency or even have citizenship, but you were born somewhere else you are still a visitor to this country. Embrace their way of life and keep it simple. This one is what I think is the most important of all the tips I can give. It will help you in every aspect of living here in Costa Rica. Enjoy it and take it to heart and don’t let your life in your home country spoil the experience you will have here.
2. Going..Going…GoneIf you see it, you like it, you better buy it! It won’t be there when you get back. This equates to many things and in different ways. 1st example furniture. If you go into a store like Ashley’s and see a sofa you like. Get it now! Don’t walk away from it! Some might buy it out from under you. They don’t have a stock room! What you see is what you get. 2nd example is food products. I buy a number of things and minced garlic is a necessity in my house! I buy it at Pricesmart. Now they usually have it and I buy maybe one jar. Well they were out of it for 3 months at one point. So when it came in I bought 5 jars and anytime I go I buy 1 jar and try to keep a min of 6 in my pantry. That will get me though any drought. 🙂 Than there is the times when it just won’t be sold anymore. My wife loves the pineapple jelly at Pricesmart. We would buy it every time we went there. One day we go and its gone. That was over 6 months ago. 😦 So I asked a couple people and what I was told was if an items sells really well they will stop selling it. Its more trouble to keep restocking it , so its better to not carry it. So keep this in mind when you are shopping. If you have space buy the bulk quantity or follow the buy it now policy! Good luck!
Consistency?The lack of this can drive an expat insane here. As an example you can go into a restaurant and order the same food over and over again prepared by the same cook and get a different dish every time. Now this doesn’t happen everywhere and all the time, but it does happen a lot. 1st example is a restaurant where I get consume de pollo (Gringo speak chicken soup) sometimes they use real chicken broth and it is a wonderful soup with a poached egg and chicken meat. There are other times it is made with the powder stuff they have here which I really do not like. 2nd example is salads. This happens a lot. You order one and it comes with certain items lets take for instance a chef salad. You get your lettuce, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, cucumbers, and avocado all standard in a salad. Now what makes it a chef is it is topped with meat like bacon, ham, cheese, and sometimes chicken or steak. You my order it one time and it has all these things. Next time it has none of the meat items except maybe bacon. The next time bacon, ham, chicken. You get the idea. Again all this is from the same place and the same cook who prepares it every day. I just look at it like every time I eat out it is an adventure and what I get I get and no matter what it is going to be tasty! Well most times. 🙂 Go with it people its an adventure!
4. Posted hours of operation We learned very quickly that yes most places have their hours that they are open posted, but we have also learned that is subject to change and be altered without notice. Also keep in mind most are closed for lunch. Yes even a restaurant will close for lunch! Now that can range from 1 hour to 3 hours in the middle of the day. So we head out for dinner and we know that we should not have our heart set on any one place to eat. We go to the 1st place that should be open and it isn’t so we drive until we find a place that is and we eat there. There was one time when we drove to 4 places before we found one that was opened. Next day I asked around to see if there was some holiday or event I didn’t know about? Nope there wasn’t. Now why is this? See #1 above as one of the answers to this question. The next answer did shock me a little when I was told this by a couple owners. If they make enough money they will close and take the day off. Again see #1. There are also family emergencies that happen. You have to remember most of these places are family owned and run so if something happens they are closed. There is also the no show of the employees. Again this could be for many reasons but see #1. They don’t have a lot of employees that if one or two or Gods forbid all of them get sick that they can just call someone else to fill in for them. So they close. All of this is understandable. So you have to be a little relaxed and understanding and know that you may head to one place, but end up somewhere totally different!
5. Ouch my ears!Costa Rica can be a noisy country. The locals love their music and they love it loud! Not all areas are this way, but most will have some sort of noise you may not be use to. Parties start at 9 pm or later and can go all night long. Can’t tell you how many times a neighbors house has had a party and they did loud Karaoke until 2 or 3 am. Now mind you I have had my party or two, but lets face it us old expats go to bed pretty early here so my party started at 5 pm and ended at 10 and the music and loud horrible Karaoke stooped at 9 pm. 🙂 They do love their fireworks here! You never know when you are going to hear the bangs and see the light show. Than there is the wild life and depending on the areas you live in there could be Howler monkeys, you will mostly have birds, there can be roosters, cows, horses, pigs, and dogs! There are all manner of sounds. The animals of Costa Rica do not know what time it is. So i f you think you are only going to hear a rooster 1st thing in the morning you are so wrong. They make noise all hours of the day and night! Dog you can hear barking all the time. Most locals don’t keep their dogs in the house so they are outside all day and all night or even roaming the streets. So be prepared for dogs barking! So you can either complain about all the noise or adjust your habits. I recommend a good set of headphones to sleep with at night. Me I can sleep though almost anything. My wife on the other hand puts in ear buds and listens to something I have no clue what she is listening to while she is sleeping. It is an adjustment no doubt. Again it may be noisy but the beauty that comes with it is well worth the noise. the birds and the monkey’s and the wild life is so great here.
Well those are my top 5 tips to help you visit and live in Costa Rica. I hope you find it informative and helpful and just remember we are here and this country is what it is and they have a way of life that is different from our own. We are not here to change them or make them more like us, if that is what you want to do while you are here you are going to be very, very unhappy. Embrace the difference. Live in the moment and enjoy the wonders that Costa Rica has to offer you while you are here.
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